By Tatenda Mujeyi
Zambia and Zimbabwe are considering the technical modalities governing the common Agro Industrial Park in Harare, an initiative that follows the countries’ signing of a memorandum of agreement in Industrial development cooperation last year.
The project which is currently in its pre feasibility study of an Agro Industrial Park is being carried out through partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Development Bank and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to foster enhancing food security and end hunger and poverty.
The project which commenced following the signing of an MOU between the two countries in March 2021 faced a false start owing to the COVID 19 pandemic is currently in it’s prefeasibility study and consultation stage with the feasibility study expected to take place in the last quarter of this year before implimentation commencement.
The Agro Industrial park will initially concentrate on maize and dairy products value chains as part of the agreed initial products before upscaling the venture to other products.
As envisaged following the Russian Ukraine War, the partnership is key in availing alternative foreign currency earners for the two countries as Africa remains food insecure despite boasting the most arable land and favorable climatic conditions.
“Heavy commodity dependence of Southern Africa is a key impediment to development as Zambia depends on copper for 80% of it’s exports and Zimbabwe has minerals bankrolling over 30% of it’s GDP. The agro Industrial park is expected to address this irregularity as it avails agriculture as a key export for Southern African countries.” Mr Wisdom Kalen’ga, ECA SRO Consultant for the project.
The project is expected to enhance collaboration, intra regional trade while enhancing empowerment through skills development and local industrial ownership.
“The aim is to increase the availability of industrial goods and services for bilateral market among themselves; expand intra- regional trade in manufactures; develop industrialists that would acquire ownership and management of the industries; develop appropriate skills and knowledge in industries and strengthen collaboration; and bolster networking among policy makers.” Joseph Mpunga, Senior Investment Promotion Officer, Directorate of Industry and Agriculture for Zambia said.
With the process currently in the feasibility stage the actual amount required to fully implement the project is yet to be ascertained despite tens of millions estimated to be necessary for fulfillment.
“Right now we can not say how much the project will cost despite our estimates assuming tens of millions as meeting all the technical and infrastructural requirements. For now we have to make sure that we Assume due diligence in establishment of the legislative framework governing the project” Olayinka Bandele, UNECA Chief Inclusive Industrialization, Subregional Office for Southern Africa said.
With Zambia and Zimbabwe having projects of similar nature in terms of partnerships, recommendations were made to adopt the successful management strategies that had been used in the Zambezi Water Authority and the Lake Kariba electricity sharing agreement to upscale the potential success of the project.
The actual locations of the project have also not been agreed on as discussions are still underway.
With the World Bank estimating poverty in a region as perennially above 45% of population according to the World Bank’s US$1.9 per day poverty datum line the project is expected to foster food security and poverty eradication