Strengthening Capacities of Small-Scale Cross Border Trades at DRC-Zambia Border

Over 60 small-scale cross-border traders, border management officials, and other government officials from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia based at the Kipushi border post participated in a five-day capacity-building forum to establish formalised networks at the entry point.

The forum, held from May 13–17, 2024, is part of COMESA’s commitment to enhancing peace and cross-border trade in the Great Lakes region and beyond. It was organized by the COMESA Secretariat through the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation and Integration Programme (GLTFIP) and the Governance, Peace, and Security programme, following a recent policy directive by COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

Key discussions focused on understanding and implementing the COMESA Simplified Trade Regime (STR) program, the Charter on the Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Small-Scale Cross-Border Traders, and improved methods for conducting conflict prevention, analysis, and resolution. The delegates also addressed the challenges faced by small-scale cross-border traders at Kipushi.

Mr. Adrien Ndayisaba, the GLTFIP project coordinator, reaffirmed COMESA’s commitment to supporting peace-building efforts in the region as a means to deepen trade and development. He expressed gratitude to the World Bank for its continued support of these efforts by funding the project.

Following the training, a Joint Border Committee was established, and a roadmap was developed. Among the recommendations was the need for the Secretariat to continue conducting capacity-building initiatives and expedite the operationalization of the Committee.

The governments of the DRC and Zambia have finalized bilateral talks on implementing the STR, and the agreement is awaiting signatures from their respective ministers responsible for trade.

Meanwhile, a four-member team from the World Bank conducted a supervision mission for the GLTFI project from May 27–29, 2024. Led by Task Team Leader Dr. Magueye Dia, the team discussed with the COMESA official, the progress of the project, the challenges faced so far, and the way forward.

The GLTFIP is a six-year, World Bank-funded project implemented by the governments of Burundi and DR Congo, as well as COMESA. It is part of the wider World Bank Great Lakes Initiative, which aims to assist countries in the Great Lakes Region to reduce poverty and promote common prosperity by targeting some of the most vulnerable groups in the border regions of the DR Congo and neighbouring countries. The total amount of the project is USD 245 million.