Zambia’s Regional Strategic Positioning: Key to becoming an Economic Hub of Southern Africa

By

John Moono

On Monday 10 May, 2021, the country saw the commissioning of the Kazungula Bridge on the Zambezi river linking Zambia and Botswana. Kazungula Bridge is the quadruple point in the world where Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. The message on the commissioning of the Bridge all five Heads of States to have attended the commissioning echoed the message of enhance intra Africa trade.

Looking at the position of the country, it is safe to mention that Zambia is one of the most strategically located landlocked countries on the African continent. Zambia has eight neighbouring countries with each country providing an opportunity for the intra Africa trade. Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Namibia and Angola all have sea ports for which the country can export or import goods.

The commissioning of the Kazungula Bridge is a signal that the country needs to invest in infrastructure development to enhance trade with it’s neighbours. The country recently signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo to start a joint project of constructing the KasomenoMwenda Bridge and Toll Service point. This would easily open up the Western corridor of the country with other parts of the continent. The project would easily make the movement of goods and services very easy among the following countries; Angola, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia. The project is of great economic benefit to all the aforementioned countries. Therefore, the construction of this Bridge should be expedited by the two governments.

Additionally, the Government had previously indicated plans of putting up a Canal in Shangombo in Western Province of Zambia to connect Zambia, Angola and Namibia. The said project has been mooted and since 2011, there has been no mention of the project being put into reality. During the Rupiah Banda Government days, there was mention of the Solwezi-Benguela Railway Project but just as the Shangombo Canal Project, it has also be mooted. The desire of the Government to become an Economic Hub of the Southern Region, will only become a reality the day these expensive yet worthwhile projects are put into reality.

Another part of the country that needs an Infrastructural masterpiece to enhance trade is the Feira- Beira Border area. The geographic channel might prove challenging to put a Bridge or a Canal there but risking, would bring worthwhile results to all the countries. The confluence of the Zambezi river and the Luangwa river provides an interesting site of trade and tourism. Therefore, the Zambian and Mozambican governments should explore the possibility of putting up either a Bridge or a Canal in order to open up the area as a trade route.

The Government of the Republic of Zambia should expedite the construction of the railway projects between Serenje to Chipata through to Muchinji and many other projects that the Minister of Transport and Communication Hon Mutotwe Kafwaya announced in the month of April, 2021 that have been signed.

The Link- Zambia project which was aimed at opening up the country in order to boost the economic growth of the country internally by making it very easy for goods and services be moved, should also extend to major economic roads in the country. The Lusaka- Chirundi road, the Lusaka-Livingstone road, the Lusaka-Nakonde road, the Copperbelt-Nakonde road and the Pedicle road among other economic roads should all be in good condition. Furthermore, local routes should also be in good condition to make it easy for people and goods to easily move from place to place as they conduct their trade. When the roads are in good condition, the Government should look at the possibility of revoking the Statuatory instrument banning the movement of Passenger Service Vehicles after 21 hours. Allowing the passenger service vehicles and cargo vehicles would let the wheels of the economy move faster and thereby driving the economy to better growth. Therefore, good roads are key to improving the economy of the country. This is going to make it possible for enhanced trade in the country and the region as well. With the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement being in place, the emphasis on improved infrastructure can not be overstated.

With that said, Zambia should therefore take advantage of her Strategic regional positioning and improve her infrastructure so as to enhance trade between her and her neighbours. The dream of being an Economic Hub of Southern Africa is only going to be a reality when the Governments expedites these expensive yet worthwhile projects.

Published by MyWritings

A Writer, A Diplomat in Waiting, Climate Change Advocate and a Football Administrator

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