THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has signed a e3,54 million agreement that promotes the implementation of a One Stop Border Post at Mchinji between Zambia and Malawi.
It is hoped that the latest development would improve trade between the two neighbouring countries while fostering regional integration.
In a statement, Comesa said some of the major activities to be implemented under the agreement include the upgrading of e-customs management system and bandwidth, and improving inter-agency connectivity.
“The Comesa secretariat and the Government of the Republic of Malawi have signed a e3,54 million agreement that sub-delegates the implementation of coordinated border management activities under the broader trade facilitation programme with Comesa at Mchinji border post between Zambia and Malawi on the Malawian side,” it said.
The sub-delegation agreement was separately signed in Zambia and Malawi this week by Comesa secretary general Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe and Malawi’s principal secretary in the Ministry of Trade Ms Christina Zakeyo.
“The project will support the implementation of key pillars of One Stop Border Post operations.
“Some of the major activities to be implemented under this agreement include upgrading the customs e-management system and bandwidth; improving inter-agency connectivity; implementation of the Trade and Transport Corridor Management System; capacity building, training and sensitisation of national trade facilitation committee and border agencies among others,” said the trading bloc.
The signing of the sub-delegation agreement comes a month after a similar agreement was signed with the Zambian government to upgrade its side of the border post at Mwami, on November 27 last year.
“This new development is part of the e48 million Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) with Comesa financed under the 11th European Development Fund with the objective of deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing the competitiveness of the Comesa region,” it said.
Ms Zakeyo said was quoted as saying, “The signing of the sub-delegation agreement came after an assessment of existing challenges conducted at Mchinji border post in early 2020”. She commended the European Union for the support rendered under the programme through Comesa secretariat to improve the facilitation of trade at Mchinji and Mwami border post.
Ms Zakeyo said the support was a testimony of the continued and strengthened collaboration between Malawi and the EU.
The interventions at Mchinji border post are expected to enhance efficiency and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business.
In her remarks, Ms Kapwepwe explained that the modalities of implementation of the sub-delegated activities provide an opportunity for Malawi to take ownership and lead in the implementation of the activities. The Comesa secretariat will provide technical guidance.
COMESA is a regional economic community established in 1994. It brings together 21 African member States with a population of 583 million people into a cooperative framework for sustainable economic growth and prosperity through regional integration. — Follow on Twitter @okazunga.