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COMESA Secretariat through the division of Industry and Agriculture recently facilitated meetings between the RIDA Group of Sudan, EMAS and Akation of Turkey with local companies and the Zambian government in the areas of mining, construction, engineering and agriculture.

The meetings were part of the programme on business linkages that was started by the COMESA Secretariat in order to promote cross border investment within the region rather than relying solely on foreign direct investment. So far business linkages have been organized and undertaken in Swaziland, Ethiopia, Malawi and Zimbabwe and tangible results recorded.

In Swaziland for example an Egyptian company KATO Investment is undertaking an investment in Swaziland Civil Aviation to the tune of close to USD 100 million. The investment is Swaziland airline, aviation academy and cargo village.  Over 200 jobs will be created directly. In Ethiopia, a manufacturing plant for household appliances is being set up.

The Zambian meetings were attended by COMESA representatives, representative of the African Trade Insurance (ATI), RIDA Group, National Housing Authority of Zambia, EMAS and Akation Construction companies from Turkey, Zambian Minister of Mines and the Zambian Minister of Community Development.

Presentations were done by EMAS LTD on construction of houses and buildings using the new least cost technology to the participants during the meetings.

The meetings came up with various propositions among them the need to establish a gold refinery in Zambia through private –public –participation (PPP) to increase value addition/mineral beneficiation and hence inflows of foreign exchange from mining sector. A presentation will be done during the second week of July 2016 on how to establish gold refinery in Zambia. This will be done on behalf of RIDA by an expert who established gold refinery in Sudan.

More information to be supplied to RIDA Group by Small Scale Mining Associations as  regards the operations of Small scale/Artisinal Mining.

Regarding agriculture, the company was given 1000 hectares of land in the Mwanza area around Lake Bangweulu and will dispatch experts to do soil tests at the end of July 2016. The intention is to grow palms and process them into palm oil. The company intends to invest in fish farming in the lakes around the Mwanza area and agreed to send experts for a preliminary study by end of August 2016.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between EMAS and National Housing Authority of Zambia paving the way for the formation of a joint venture company between the two by end of June 2016.

ATI agreed to facilitate the issuance of a sovereign guarantee for the project by end of June 14, 2016, paving the way therefore for project funding.