THE Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the largest markets in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
However, any reports of insecurity have the potential to disrupt trade activities in the region.
The need for better security has been highlighted in the protest by SADC truck drivers who parked their trucks at the border and refused to enter the DRC.
The truck drivers, who traverse between the DRC and the coast on the eastern side of the continent, refused to enter DRC to transport goods in protest against the alleged shooting and injuring of a Zambian driver, Jeff Zulu. This is also a regrettable incident.
The economic dynamics prevailing in the world today dictate that international trade takes place, making every country get involved out of the realisation that no country is self-sufficient to meet all its economic needs.
Trade also comes with economic benefits like employment creation, higher standard of living and industrialisation.
Each country needs the other to meet the demands of its citizens and to keep the wheels of the economy on track. This, we are sure, is the reason a number of trucks, either from Zambia or from further in the SADC region, make their way to deliver goods to DRC or pick goods for delivery to sea ports.
The DRC is one of the largest destinations for goods in the trade chain in the SADC region and it should also be noted that there is a good amount of international trade that goes on between Zambia and DRC, as well as with other countries in the region.
Because of its population, the potential for the demand for imported goods, either from its neighbours or other countries in the region is huge.
In fact, intra-regional trade is now becoming more common because of the low cost involved in transporting goods and the need to cement relations through bilateral agreements the countries in the region enter into.
In fact, a number of World Trade Organisation (WTO) members are now beginning to refocus and redefine the trade relations with the world body because of dissatisfaction over a number of trade agreements.
Countries are now turning to their neighbours and others in the region as a way of promoting trade.
It is, therefore, a cause of concern when there are security threats on drivers who are tasked to transport goods to and from DRC.
It is the duty of every country where the drivers transit, to ensure there are adequate security measures so that the lives of drivers are not at risk and trade is not disrupted.
We believe the drivers have a genuine case and we are glad to hear that DRC Katanga Province Governor Celistin Kapopo, who held consultative talks with the Zambian government, has assured them of safety.
With this assurance, we are hopeful that traffic from DRC will flow smoothly so that the region moves on to achieve its development goals.
We also want to urge the drivers who use international routes to abide by the rules prevailing in the countries in which they transit so that there is no disruption in the flow of traffic.
Security is an important element in fostering trade in the region and we urge governments to always ensure it prevails for the benefit of its peoples and their economies.