Zambian and Zimbabwean cross-border traders have welcomed the dollarization of trade on the borders Botswana shares with both Zambia, Zimbabwe and the rest of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Cross-border traders from both Zambia and Zimbabwe flood the country’s second largest city on a daily basis to buy different types of goods ranging from clothing to electrical gadgets for reselling in their respective countries.
Kazungula border post, which is being upgraded into a one-stop border post is located about 500km northwest of Francistown and is mostly a congested place, thanks to the huge volume of cross-border trade between Botswana and Zambia.
On the other hand, Ramokgwebana border post – about 90km northeast of Botswana second largest city is also mostly a congested place thanks to the large cross-border trade between Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Other goods from various southern African countries also pass through Kazungula and Ramokgwebana border posts. Heavy trucks laden with various goods cross over either side of the border points every day, thereby making them the busiest entry points of the country.
“This is a welcome development for us cross-border traders,” 36-year-old Tendai Mutemwanjera, who has been in the cross-border trading business for the past six years, told Voice Money in an interview.
According to Mutemwanjera, the busy state of Ramokgwebana border post has also attracted some illegal activities that include a black market for foreign exchange dealers despite the presence of registered financial institutions.
Rhoda Phiri, a Zambian cross-border trader said the move would obviously curtail the illegal exchange of foreign currency, which results in the countries losing out revenue that was expected to flow into their respective coffers.
Another trader, Moses Muchingauta said the consideration of introducing a statutory instrument that will allow traders and companies at border posts “within the SADC region” to transact in United States (US) dollars will make life easier for cross border traders.
“It is time consuming to be running around at the border post trying to find the currency required by different countries. It is a cumbersome process and does not make any business sense,” said Muchingauta, who runs a logistics company between Botswana and Zimbabwe.
SADC secretariat announced in its monthly newsletter for May that its affiliates have agreed in unison to introduce the US dollar, as a trading currency on the southern African regional payment system by October this year.