The Zambia Co-operative Federation (ZCF) says plans are underway to construct a Regional Trading Centre (RTC) in Kasumbalesa on the Copperbelt in order to integrate trade between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

ZCF Director General, James Chirwa said after the commissioning and actualisation of the Lusaka Regional Trading Centre, the Federation is considering putting up a similar structure on the Copperbelt.

Mr Chirwa said the Lusaka trade centre is only waiting for ZESCO to light up a few buildings that are not yet connected to power and would be commissioned within the first two weeks of next month.

He told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka that ZCF is determined to fill up the gap in the value chain of supply by setting up Regional Trading Centres in all the ten provinces of the country where all traders of various commodities would be in one place.

“The formalisation of trade in these centres would require the presence of government departments such as the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZBS) for compliance and standardisation of commodities,” Mr Chirwa said.

He said farmers are excited to start bringing their commodities to the centre as it would help them connect with buyers of their produce as they concentrate on production, which is their specialisation.

Mr Chirwa also called on the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry to take keen interest in ensuring that the objectives of the trading centre are realised by part of the process once the centre is commissioned.

“I don’t believe that the innovation of an individual should be left to that same individual or organisation to work towards its realisation,” Mr Chirwa said.

He also called on farmers and producers of various commodities to consider joining the cooperative movement so that they can freely take their produce to the centre because non-members would be expected to pay for them to access services at the centre.   

The Lusaka Regional Trade Centre that was built at a cost $6.5Million is expected to help small-scale farmers and chain stores through the storage of their merchandise under favorable conditions.

The Regional Trading Centers are part of the Presidential Milling Initiative that was rolled out in September 2015 with the aim of installing 2,000 Solar-Powered Milling Plants.