The United Kingdom (UK) in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is set to boost trade links across Southern Africa.
Through the partnership, informal traders in Malawi, South Africa and Zambia will be assured of their safety while they trade amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, says the support will benefit traders even beyond the pandemic period.
“From farmers selling their crops at regional markets, to growing African businesses exporting to global markets, traders across Southern Africa are an important and growing driver of regional business, investment and prosperity.
“UK support to help both formal and informal traders to move their goods quickly and safely will help Southern African trade to not just survive the economic consequences of Covid-19, but thrive in the future,” he said.
The statement further states that the partnership between the UK and IOM will provide advice and training to traders, governments and border agencies, so that key border posts in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, and the wider region can be open and safe spaces for traders to resume their business legally and safely.
While emphasising the importance of the revolution that the partnership will bring, one of the small scale border traders at Comesa Market in Lusaka, Zambia, Woma Mumbuluma, acknowledged that trading has been difficult due to the pandemic.
Informal cross-border trade accounts for up to 30 to 40 percent of regional trade across Southern Africa – making it a vital source of income and food security for communities across the region. But with many borders closed to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic, traders – up to 70 percent of whom are women – are missing out on crucial earnings their families rely on.