The Sunday Mail
THE adoption of the Common Agro-Industrial Park (CAIP) initiative is critical in attracting private sector investments into the sector and building strong industrial hubs that will help build momentum towards increased intra-regional trade and widening job opportunities, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said on Thursday.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are spearheading the model, which has come under the spotlight at the ongoing African Union (AU) Summit on Industrialisation and Economic Transformation in Niamey, Niger, where regional leaders are engaged in deliberations aimed at boosting industrial production and trade within the continent.
This year’s summit is being held under the theme “Industrialising Africa: Renewed Commitment Towards an Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation and Economic Diversification”.
Zimbabwe and Zambia have embarked on a joint cross-border agro-industrial park under the Common Agro-Industrial Park programme, which seeks to harness mutual value chain opportunities in the sector. The project is regarded as the first of its kind in Africa.
Both countries have higher comparative and competitive advantages in agriculture as the mainstay of their economies.
Responding to questions during Thursday’s session on the CAIP modelling, Dr Nzenza, who arrived in Niamey earlier this week, said strengthening regional co-operation towards deepening value chain synergies was critical in transforming the continent’s economy.
“Indeed, common agro-industrial parks have become vehicles for attracting private sector investments in establishing mega-industrial hubs on the continent,” she said.
“The starting point for this dialogue on common agro-industrial parks is in the pursuit of the Africa we want through AU Agenda 2063.
“This recognises two key things — intentional strategic collaboration in pursuit of regional and continental trade and mobilisation of funding around development of interlinking value chains.”
Dr Nzenza said efforts to establish a common agro-industrial park between the two neighbouring countries were energised by the cordial bilateral relations that exist and shared history of co-operation, which dates back to the colonial period.
“Around this, we created a shared opportunity around the future of industrialisation. In pursuit of that, we are jointly implementing an industrialisation cooperation programme following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in March 2021,” she said.
“As a starting point for strengthening our co-operation, we have chosen the establishment of a common agro-industrial park, and this is based on the comparative advantages we have in the agricultural sector.
“Indeed, this will be the first of its kind in Southern Africa. It will be situated at one of the border areas shared by the two countries.”
The minister told delegates that enhancing collaboration within the development of value chains was critical towards development of vibrant regional and continental trade.
“If Africa is to trade with itself, Africa must be prepared to produce high value products on a collaborative basis. It is on this premise that both the ‘moving up the value chains agenda’ and re-engagement policy by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, is based. It is the same way the joint industrial park with Zambia was born,” she said.
Dr Nzenza said the CAIP model represents the agricultural potential and expertise in both countries to create employment and anchor investment and economic growth across the borders.
The linkages fostered with other economic sectors in the member states are vital in fulfilling the ideals of higher levels of intra-regional trade as espoused in the African Continental Free Trade Area vision.
“Through CAIP, we expect to enjoy the benefits of enhanced rural industrialisation through linkages between farmers and agro- park firms at the border areas between Zimbabwe and Zambia,” said the minister.
She also outlined how the model has benefits of economies of scale at all stages of the agro-value chains, economies of vertical co-ordination (transactions) among the productive/service sectors involved and economies of complementaries and intra-African trade potential beyond national boundaries.
“To this end, I would like to challenge the organisers to conduct value chain mapping and resource mobilisation for purposes of full and effective common agro-industrial parks to benefit African countries,” said Dr Nzenza.
Delegates had sought clarification on how the CAIP supports the growth of a robust agro-industrial sector in Zimbabwe and the region, as well as how the initiative feeds into the free trade area aspects involving selected agricultural products.
The summit is part of the Africa Industrialisation Week’s annual commemorative activities aimed at highlighting the continent’s renewed determination and commitment to industrialisation.
The week ran from November 20 to 25, 2022.