COMESA, Malawi sign €900,000 agreement for construction of cross border market


The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat and the government of Malawi have signed a €900,000 sub-delegation agreement to construct a cross-border market in Mchinji District, 20 km from the Mchinji/Mwami One Stop Border Post with Zambia.

The traders’ market, located in Mchinji District, is funded by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative (SSCBTI).

COMESA Secretary-General, Chileshe Mpundu, Kapwepwe and Malawi’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Sosten Gwengwe, signed the agreement during a virtual event on Saturday.

According to a statement issued in Lusaka, the SSCBTI supports the provision of gender-sensitive basic infrastructure for small-scale cross-border traders.

“The infrastructure to be constructed will include a market shelter, breastfeeding shelter, warehouse, shops, office block and public ablution block for the market,” the statement reads.

In his remarks, Gwengwe applauded the COMESA Secretariat and the European Union for their support.

He promised to ensure the construction of a well-designed structure by selecting an appropriate construction firm to meet the needs of traders in Mchinji.

Kapwepwe noted that the implementation of the sub-delegated activities provided an opportunity for Malawi to maximise the benefits of small-scale cross-border trade with Zambia and other COMESA members.

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“This development comes at an opportune time for Malawi and will complement the increased trade expected at the Mwami-Mchinji One Stop Border Post,” she said.

Kapwepwe emphasized the importance of close collaboration among all stakeholders to ensure the swift implementation and completion of the project.

She highlighted that the provision of market infrastructure was expected to boost formal small-scale cross-border trade flows between Malawi and Zambia, leading to higher revenue collection for governments, increased security and higher income for small-scale cross-border traders.

The availability of border market infrastructure would enhance the connection between traders and customers, reducing losses, especially in perishable stock, according to an assessment carried out by consulting firm IMANI Development in May 2017.

The assessment, conducted at border posts including Kasumbalesa (DRC and Zambia), Chirundu (Zambia and Zimbabwe), Nakonde/Tunduma (Zambia and Tanzania), Mwami/Mchinji (Zambia and Malawi), and Moyale (Ethiopia and Kenya), identified basic workspace infrastructure at the border as a major requirement for small-scale traders.

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