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COMESA has embarked on  a monitoring mission to check the impact of the trade related support given to the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry through Regional Integration Capacity Building project which is funded by the European Union through COMESA Adjustment Facility.

Visiting the textile factory, CEO for ZAFAWIB-Maureen Sumbwe noted that the Secretary General of COMESA opened the factory with 20 tailors of which of them lost businesses due to the effect of the pandemic have since been trained in the operationalization of the industrial machines and business skills.

“In order to provide capacity for the factory, ZAFAWIB   has  continued fixing more machines in order to increase the capacity for production and once full functional, the federation will put some of the equipment in the skills training Centre for the beneficiation of the young ones.,” said Ms. Sumbwe.

“As ZAFAWIB, our aim is to ensure that we continuously provide training to the young ones so that they are self-sustainable in the society by creating a multiplier effect.”

She has disclosed that despite COVID-19, ZAFAWIB has continued providing skills enhancement and in the next two (2) weeks will be providing a virtual training in pattern making through a consultant from one of the Indian Universities as a pilot project.

Chief Executive Office said in ensuring that there is steady flow of business, the federation has a marketing team that has managed to seal a deal with UNICEF to make 5500 nurses aprons and another concealment of 7500 nurses aprons together at a costing approximately K500, 000.Additionally, the federation will supply 10,000 nurses aprons to UNICEF on the valued cost to be agreed upon.

She added that COVID 19 started with an opportunity to the factory by making 5000 face masks on behalf of COMESA which were donated to the Ministry of Health.

In terms of challenges, Mrs. Sungwe noted that because we are import oriented coupled with COVID 19, as a country we risk having serious bottlenecks in terms of supplies of imported materials and hiking of prices on the market.

She however noted that it is high time we started looking at local value chains in the cotton sector owing to the identified gap between the cotton farmers and   COMESA representative, Ms. Hope Situmbeko says in order for the sector to continue growing, COMESA would like to introduce exchange programmes with the region.

She has observed that most of the countries need capacity in this area in order to be competitive hence the need for the creation of regional linkages by exploring virtual meetings.

“Due to COVID-19, it is difficult to physically meet but we can explore the possibilities of setting up videos in the factories virtually and see what discussions and ideas shared,” she explained.

Ms. Situmbeko pledged to explore the possibilities of organizing sector specific with actual stakeholders in the industry across the region.

Commenting on concerns on value chains, she mentioned that COMESA is equally supporting and providing capacity in the cotton value chains in Mumbwa and some selected districts so as to enable the sector to grow.

Ms. Situmbeko added that COMESA is also working with Cooperative College to bring in the training which should be able to address different aspects of the value chain.

And RISM Coordinator, Mr.Filtone Sandando noted that the main aspect that funders are looking at in the project implementation, is the issue of sustainability beyond the assistance by the Ministry of Commerce through Cooperating partners. Mr. Sandando expressed happiness that the federation has come up with initiatives and significant steps in mobilizing capital and resources to the equipment in order to add value to the institution.

“Sustainability is  what the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry  and my commissioners of the project  funders will be looking at, after this funding, what next?, he questioned.

He further indicated to the beneficiaries that sustainability should be part of their on-going strategy and that they should explore marketing opportunities to grow the industry.

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