UK Minister for Africa James Duddridge visited Zambia earlier this month to discuss British support to boost trade across Southern Africa and between Zambia and East Africa.
He held talks with Zambian Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu as well as with trade bodies and businesses.
“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,” said Duddridge.
“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.”
Regarding Southern Africa, the British Minister announced that the UK was partnering with the United Nations International Organisation for Migration to supply training and advice to governments, border agencies and traders, to ensure that key border posts in Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and elsewhere could be open and safe, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and allow especially informal traders to safely and legally resume their business.
The UK will provide funding of £1-million (about R21-million) for this programme.
It has been calculated that informal trade was responsible for between 30% and 40% of Southern Africa’s regional trade. Up to 70% of these informal traders were women. “Our livelihood depends on us being able to cross borders frequently, in order to buy and sell goods,” pointed out Lusaka-based small-scale border trader Womba Mumbuluma. “With the spread of Covid-19, it became difficult to trade across borders as most borders were closed. “Although there are alternatives, like online shopping, our businesses have suffered great losses.”
“This support is designed to keep cross-border trade in Southern Africa flowing, despite all the disruption Covid has brought,” explained British High Commissioner to South Africa Nigel Casey. “This is a vital source of income for many vulnerable small traders both here in South Africa and across the region. This is a further way in which we’re supporting South Africa’s response to the corona virus pandemic.”
Concerning trade between Zambia and East Africa, Duddridge also announced that Britain was supporting a new partnership between the Southern African country and trade promotion group TradeMark East Africa.