Malawi and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) secretariat have signed a 3.54 million Euro agreement for modernisation of Mchinji Border Post, with a corresponding project being implemented in Mwami on Zambia’s side of the border.
The agreement has been signed under the Broader Trade Facilitation Programme.
Malawi’s Principal Secretary for Trade Christina Zakeyo and Comesa Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe signed the agreement separately in Malawi and Zambia last week.
According to a statement on the European Union in Malawi official twitter page, the initiative would enhance regional integration efforts in the two countries.
“The project will support the implementation of key pillars. Some of the major activities to be implemented under the agreement include upgrading customs e-management system and bandwidth, improving interagency connectivity, implementation of the Trade and Transport Management System and capacity building among others,” the statement reads.
The 3.54 Euro (roughly K3.4 billion) agreement is part of the 48 million Euros Trade Facilitation Programme which Comesa financed under the 11th European Development Fund with the aim of deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing competitiveness of the Comesa region.
The statement quotes Zakeyo as thanking the European Union for supporting the programme.
“The government of Malawi desires to build on current trade facilitation efforts through programmes such as the Comesa Trade Facilitation Project. The interventions at Mchinji Border Post are expected to enhance efficiency and ultimately reduce costs of doing business and the support is, therefore, timely as Malawi grapples with the negative effects of Covid-19,” she says.
Cross Border Traders Association Chairperson Esther Tchukambiri hailed the agreement, saying traders waste a lot of time clearing their goods manually at the borders.
“By the time you come to the borders, you are tired. Nobody wants to be at the borders for a long time because, obviously, the longer you stay there the more the expenses you incur,” she said.