By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
ZAMBIA’S development of a national implementation strategy is a key component in creating the soft infrastructure necessary for driving the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, tracking its progress and delivery of benefits.
Government launched the country’s strategy for the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement on July 27, 2021 accompanied by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, SubRegional Office for Southern Africa (ECA SRO-SA). The success of the strategy would be anchored on a dynamic and vibrant industrial sector supported by many other national policies and strategies, including the Micro- Small and Medium Enterprises “MSMEs” policy, says SRO-SA Chief, Sub-regional Initiatives, Isatou Gaye. Ms Gaye emphasised that other national policies and strategies included the National Industrial Policy and the Local Content Policy.
She applauded the participatory and fully consultative manner through which the strategy was developed by Zambia. Ms Gaye said this in her comments on Zambia’s participation in the AfCFTA agreement. “The national AfCFTA Strategy and Implementation Plan for Zambia represents a significant milestone in the region as it broadens the business horizon for Zambian entrepreneurs beyond the Tripartite Agreement of Eastern African Community (EAC), Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC),” she said. She thanked Zambia for their concerted efforts and for the determination to transform and capacitate the MSME sector to contribute further towards economic growth, employment and industrial development. ECA SRO-SA’s work in Zambia is part of its mandate to strengthen sub-regional and national programmes and capacities to achieve inclusive industrialization for reducing poverty and inequality in Southern Africa. Together with Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Zambia is currently one of the focus countries in the work of ECA in Southern Africa. And Commerce, Trade and Industry Director for Foreign Trade, Bessie Chelemu, recently presented the national strategy.
Ms Chelemu stressed the importance of implementing the strategy as it was pivotal to contributing to jobs and wealth creation, accelerating industrialization and reducing economic inequality. “Approximately 70 per cent of Zambia’s export earnings are drawn from export of raw copper and noted that headways has been made in increasing the contribution of nontraditional exports, in particular the export of the agriculture products as indicated in the 7th National Development Plan,” she said.
Ms Chelemu thanked ECA for its continuous support, and emphasized that the strategy was a product of extensive consultations with national stakeholders. She assured participants that Government was making the necessary strides towards ensuring that all the institutional arrangements were in place to facilitate effective implementation of the AfCFTA for the benefit of the Zambian citizens and the country at large.