By Innocent Nxumalo
THE Impact of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure development drive will soon be felt in the region, amid plans for a joint venture agro-industrial park between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Set to be established in Chirundu at the border between the two sister nations, the Zimbabwe-Zambia Common Agro-Industrial Park project is expected to be a model for the Sub-Saharan Africa region as the block pushes for improvement of intra-African trade.
Regional integration experts attending the 28th Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts of Southern Africa in Maputo, Mozambique are convinced that the first joint industrial park in Southern Africa will awaken the trading block to fully commercialise agricultural value chains.
“The key thing about this Common Agro-Industrial Park is that it sets precedence in cooperation among member states. COMESA is looking at it as a project that is going to encourage other member states into similar joint programmes to develop the abundant natural resources within the sub-region,” said Oliver Maponga, ECA SRO-SA Economic Affairs Officer.
Member states from the region have also been commended for undertaking economically enabling infrastructure development projects such as the Beitbridge Border Post of Zimbabwe and the Kazungula Bridge project, among others as these promote intra-African trade.
Henry Lubinda, ECA SRO-SA Programmes Management Officer said, “The development of key infrastructure that enables trade within the block is welcome. With modern roads, bridges and rail, the block becomes interconnected and produced goods from member states will penetrate the market provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).”
The Zimbabwe-Zambia Common Agro-Industrial Park project is also the first cross-border economic zone partially located on each side of the border.
The joint project will increase the beneficiation of products like cotton, maize, wheat, rice, sugar and livestock which anchor productive sectors of the two Southern African nations.