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TRADE promotion agency, ZimTrade has urged local businesses to increase exports to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as the market is ripe for Zimbabwean products.

A fortnight ago ZimTrade facilitated the participation of local companies on an Outward Seller Mission to the DRC where vast opportunities were identi­fied in Lubumbashi.

Considered to be the second largest town in the DRC with a population of around two million people, Lubumbashi presents a lucrative market for Zimbabwean products, said ZimTrade.

It provided a platform for about 25 Zimbabwean companies to gain competitive knowledge and insight into the DRC market and creating business linkages to establish trade.

With the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in January this year, ZimTrade says such interventions make it easy for Zimbabwean companies to penetrate the wider African export market.

“With great opportunity lurking on the African continent, the DRC Outward Seller Mission explored key opportunities in Lubumbashi, focusing on sectors such as mining, agriculture, processed foods, clothing, and construction and engineering,”

said ZimTrade in a latest update issued yesterday.

“The proximity of Lubumbashi to Chirundu creates better logistics options for Zimbabwean companies that can supply the market at a competitive cost compared to the competition,”

said ZimTrade.

“The south-eastern town is the centre of mining in the region, acting as a hub for many of the country’s largest mining companies. The mining sector in the Katanga region is composed of both large-scale mining fi­rms and the small artisanal mining operations, presenting an opportunity for Zimbabwean exporters of mining consumables, engineering and safety solutions.”

In its May 2021 newsletter, ZimTrade also highlights that the new exploration and expansion operations in the Katanga region are driving demand for goods and services used in mining, building and construction as well as engineering services.

“The Haut Katanga province does not have manufacturing companies and relies on imports, which are imported through the Kasumbalesa border post between Zambia and DRC. As such, one of the greatest advantages of Lubumbashi town is its proximity to the Zambian border, making the journey of transporting goods shorter and in some cases cheaper,”

said the agency.

During the mission, DRC authorities are said to have expressed keen interest in facilitating partnerships between DRC and Zimbabwean companies in order to take advantage of the untapped market in the vast DRC.

A provincial director at the DRC National Agency for Investment Promotion, Mr Raymond Ngwej, was quoted encouraging local companies to set up base in the Lubumbashi, riding on advanced Zimbabwean sectors. “You need to look beyond the export of products . . . Zimbabwe has a tourism industry that is advanced,”

he said.

“With more hospitality opportunities emerging, this could be a gateway for exports of tourism services to the DRC.”

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