IOM, COMESA Sign Milestone Agreement to Facilitate Formalised Small-Scale Cross-Border Trade

Date Publish: 
Monday, June 11, 2018

Lusaka – IOM and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat signed an Agreement to work together to implement a European Union funded project to facilitate small-scale cross-border trade flows. The Agreement was signed by COMESA’s General Secretary General, His Excellency Sindiso Ngwenya and IOM’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Charles Kwenin, in Lusaka, Zambia on 8 June 2018. This follows the signing of a broader umbrella agreement between the European Union and COMESA for this project on 8 May 2018 at the Mwami Border between Zambia and Malawi.

The programme, which is financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), will increase formal small-scale cross-border trade flows in the COMESA/tripartite region. It will support institutional capacity building, improved border management and infrastructure and better data collection and monitoring.  The aim is to increase revenue collection for governments at the borders and higher incomes for small-scale cross-border traders, thus contributing to development in the region.

This innovative project targets select borders within the COMESA region including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The beneficiaries of this project are primarily small-scale traders, with particular focus on female traders, who regularly cross the borders in the COMESA/tripartite region to sell and buy goods, as well as the associations that represent them and defend their interests.

IOM has been selected to contribute to the implementation of this programme, in partnership with COMESA, in order to address the human mobility, free movement and migration dimensions of small-scale cross-border trade as part of this initiative.  IOM has worked closely with COMESA since 2003 when the two organizations entered into a Memorandum of Understanding, with COMESA having Observer status in IOM since 2011. IOM will also work closely as part of this project with the International Trade Center (ITC) which will draw upon its own customs and trade experience.

During the signing ceremony, IOM’s Charles Kwenin underscored the important collaboration between the two organizations and commended COMESA for addressing the migration-related issues of small-scale cross-border traders through this project.

His Excellency Sindiso Ngwenya, the Secretary-General of Africa's largest trading bloc, said during the signing ceremony at the secretariat in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, that the programme will increase formalization of informal cross border trade and enhance trade flows, a situation that will result in increased incomes for the small-scale traders.

For further information, please contact Emmanuel Sinkala at IOM Zambia, Email: