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Home » Improving trade corridors in Southern Africa: An aid to the cold chain (Part 3)

Improving trade corridors in Southern Africa: An aid to the cold chain (Part 3)

By Eamonn Ryan

The Southern African Industrialisation Forum hosted a conference on 26–27 February 2024 with a range of panel discussions. This is part three of a five-part article.

A view of the participating audience.
A view of the participating audience. ©Cold Link Africa

Continued from part two…

The following discussion is titled “Leveraging Trade Agreements for Economic Growth in the SADC Region”, with the following panel members and key stakeholders:

  • Peter Varndell: SADC Business Council Executive Secretary
  • Desiderio Fernandes, FCFASA Federation President and Mozambican Logistics Professional
  • Kafuta Mulemba, SADC Secretariat, SADC TA Lobito Corridor
  • Gainmore Zanamwe, Afreximbank Senior Manager: Trade Facilitation

Southern Africa’s strategic corridors serve as vital arteries for economic growth and regional integration. However, ensuring their sustainability and effective development presents ongoing challenges and opportunities. In this presentation, the panel of experts shed light on key initiatives and strategies aimed at bolstering the resilience and efficiency of these corridors, focusing particularly on the Dar es Salaam and Lobito corridors.

  • Dar es Salaam Corridor: The Dar es Salaam corridor has faced sustainability challenges, notably when the corridor secretariat ceased operations due to funding constraints after initial support from the World Bank. However, efforts are underway to ensure its continued viability. The secretariat has now been assimilated under the central corridor, signaling a commitment to its sustainability. Initiatives such as corridor management institutions, harmonisation of laws and infrastructure development master plans are crucial for addressing challenges and fostering growth along this corridor.
  • Lobito Corridor: In contrast, the Lobito corridor is currently experiencing significant momentum and progress. Agreements have been signed by the member states, with Angola and Zambia already ratifying them, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the process of ratification. A secretariat structure is being established, with an interim secretariat expected to be operational soon. This corridor exemplifies co-ordinated efforts to enhance industrialisation and trade, with projects identified to facilitate connectivity and infrastructure development between member states.

The panel highlighted a number of actions required

  • Co-ordination mechanisms, including corridor management institutions and harmonisation of laws, are essential for effective corridor governance. These mechanisms facilitate agreements, infrastructure development and sustainability planning.
  • Corridor infrastructure master plans play a vital role in supporting industrialisation and economic development. Identifying priority projects and ensuring their implementation are crucial steps towards enhancing trade facilitation and connectivity.
  • Sustainable corridor development requires long-term planning and strategies. Efforts to domesticate models and ensure compliance with laws and regulations are integral to maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of corridors.
  • Corridor development must align with broader economic objectives, including the integration of value chains. By linking economic clusters and prioritising sectors such as agriculture and mining, corridors can catalyse economic growth and development.
  • International co-operation and stakeholder engagement are vital for resource mobilisation and project implementation. Initiatives such as business linkages and market access platforms facilitate collaboration and support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in accessing markets and resources.

The Dar es Salaam and Lobito corridors represent both challenges and opportunities for southern Africa’s economic development and regional integration. By prioritising sustainability, infrastructure development and value chain integration, stakeholders can harness the full potential of these corridors to drive inclusive growth and prosperity across the region. With concerted efforts and strategic planning, southern Africa can build resilient and efficient corridors that serve as engines of economic transformation for years to come.

Continue to part four…