The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) successfully held a 3-day stakeholder consultative workshop for delegates from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Republic of Zambia, in Lusaka, Zambia on 22-24 November 2023.
The workshop was attended by representatives of the two Member States responsible for trade, trade facilitation, customs, security, infrastructure, transport, migration, private sector, transporters associations and International Cooperating Partners (ICPs).
Director of Industrialisation and Trade Department at the SADC Secretariat Mr. Dhunraj Kassee, informed participants that the workshop was being convened in response to the decision of the 43rd SADC Summit of the Heads of State and Governments, in August 2023 in Luanda, Angola, that directed the Secretariat to “constitute an Inter-Ministerial Task Force to find a lasting solution to the continued challenges faced by transporters and drivers at the Kasumbalesa border post,”
Mr. Dhunraj Kassee underscored the strategic importance of the Kasumbalesa border post in facilitating the cross-border movement of goods in the SADC region given its location at the confluence of several trade corridors in the region. These include the North-South Corridors, Dar es Salaam Development Corridor, Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Corridor, Beira Development Corridor, and the Lobito Development Corridors. This, he said, indicates how much benefit the region can accrue by resolving the recurring challenges at Kasumbalesa.
He noted political commitment demonstrated by their Excellencies President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC and President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, observing that the two leaders have demonstrated unapparelled political commitment towards promoting, not only bilateral trade between DRC and Zambia, but also for the SADC region. Therefore, he implored all stakeholders to take the assignment seriously and with urgency.
Deputy Director of Customs and Excise of DRC, Mr. Mariano Pitta reiterated in his remarks the critical need to finding lasting solutions at the major border posts, such as Kasumbalesa. He indicated that the two countries have made progress in implementing the joint Communique of 6 March 2023 although more still must be done. He specified that the development and upgrading of satellite border posts such as the Sakania border post is part of an integral strategy of diverting traffic away from the Kasumbalesa border post and there contribute towards decongesting the border post.
At the same event, Director of Domestic Trade from the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry of Zambia, Mrs. Margaret Moonga-Chikuba, indicated the importance that trade has to regional growth and that trade facilitation at Kasumbalesa border post is vital for growth of the two economies. She further underscored Zambia’s commitment to implementing the activities win accordance with the Joint Communique.
The main objective of the consultative workshop was to undertake a diagnostic analysis, gather information and with a particular focus on the Private Sector to find a lasting solution to the perennial challenges at Kasumbalesa Border post. The expected outcome was a comprehensive Action plan with clear time frames and deliverables, to be presented to the Inter-Ministerial Task Force of Ministers responsible for Transport, Trade, and Security.
All parties agreed to the establishment of a regional committee to oversee and monitor progress on the implementation of the agreed activities.
The Head of Cooperation at the German Embassy in Zambia Mr. Berhard Trautner who represented the GIZ reiterated the commitment by the German Government to support SADC and its Member States in the implementation of their trade and regional economic integration priorities. He appreciated the resolution of the Governments of Zambia and DRC to find a lasting solution to the challenges affecting the Kasumbalesa Border post owing to its strategic importance to the region.
The implementation of the 43rd SADC Summit decision will require identifying and resolving the continued challenges faced by transporters and drivers at the Kasumbalesa border crossing between Zambia and the DRC will contribute to the increase in intra-regional trade through increased market access and enhanced compliance of the SADC legal instruments and trade facilitation measures.