Infrastructure key to increased trade

ENHANCING bilateral trade among SADC countries through the development of cross-border infrastructure is a central pillar for achieving sustainable development and shared prosperity across the region, President Mnangagwa has said.

Addressing the opening of the Fourth Session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) here yesterday, President Mnangagwa said by removing barriers and facilitating the flow of goods and services between member states, SADC will unlock its vast economic potential, improving the lives of its citizens.

“Bilateral trade and reciprocal investment among countries, remain a panacea to regional integration and sustainable economic growth and prosperity,” he said.

“It is gratifying that the Zimbabwe-Botswana Business Forum has been organised as a side event of these meetings in line with our previous directive.

“This will undoubtedly also aid the readiness and ability of our private sectors to effectively participate in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTFA).”

The unrestricted movement of citizens, goods and services, the President said, was an essential cog to stronger economic co-operation.

“In this spirit, the establishment of One Stop Border posts should be expedited.

“The development of cross-border infrastructure projects to increase our economic efficiencies and competitiveness must be pursued with greater vigour and confidence.”

President Mnangagwa highlighted two specific projects —  the Plumtree-Ramokgwebana One-Stop Border Post and the Ponta Techobanine Railway Line — as key pillars of development that hold immense potential to unlock economic growth.

The proposed Plumtree-Ramokgwebana One-Stop Border Post between Zimbabwe and Botswana aims to streamline customs and immigration procedures at the two countries’ shared border, reducing transit times and associated costs for businesses.

On the other hand, the Ponta Techobanine Railway Line will connect eastern Botswana to Mozambique’s ports, providing an alternative trade route for both countries and boosting regional connectivity.

“The proposed railway line between Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique (known as the Ponta Techobanine Inter-Regional Heavy Haul Railway Project) is highly anticipated for greater rail connectivity in the region,” said the President.

“Investment and cooperation, particularly by our private sectors, must be encouraged in the renewable energy space, more so given the ongoing drive for the modernisation and industrialisation of our economies.

“In Zimbabwe, the power supply has significantly improved following the commissioning of Hwange Power Station Units 7 and 8 as well as increased investment in green energy.

“We look forward to strong synergies in the energy sector.”

President Mnangagwa called on Harare and Gaborone to enhance co-operation in the agricultural sector to ensure regional food self-sufficiency.

The multi-pronged risks associated with climate change, he said, have heightened the need for the two neighbouring countries to expand their capacities to produce their own food.

“We cannot afford to bury our heads in the sand, but must work within our unique country-realities for the good of our people.

“Deepening co-operation in the agriculture sector must, therefore, be prioritised.

“Riding on our unity and comparative advantages at both bilateral and regional levels, we must continue to believe in ourselves and develop viable value chains across all agriculture sub-sectors.

“To date, it is commendable that our respective ministries and agencies are making headway in combating the challenge of the foot and mouth disease.

“We must look beyond temporary hurdles and harness the opportunities that exist for our collective good.”

Climate change, the President said, continues to present veritable risks to the region and all efforts should be directed towards mutually beneficial mitigation measures.

“We must act proactively and in unity to build and strengthen our climate resilience and adaptation measures.

“Consensus around the Common African Position on Climate Change at the recent COP (Conference of Parties) 28 is welcome.

“However, our countries endure the heavy burden of the negative impact of climate change.

We, therefore, cannot afford to sit back and wait for the generosity of the global North with regards climate finance.

“Innovative financing mechanisms, including by private sector investments remain key to our climate mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

Addressing plenary, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi praised the two countries’ strong relations.

He said there was scope for greater co-operation in a vast array of spheres ranging from trade, investment and diplomatic co-operation.

President Masisi also called for the unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The two countries signed Memorandum of Understanding on Gainful Employment of Spouses of Diplomats.


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