What do people think of Zambia whenever it’s mentioned? I’m sure one would think of a corrupt state with poor infrastructure and political instability as muchly reported by the media in recent times.
One would be forgiven to think of such about Zambia considering that the 52 year old nation extraordinarily went through five different presidents in a space of 15 years due to some unforeseen circumstances followed by democratic elections.
Zambia was at one stage a one-party state in the 90s under the tutelage of continent’s stalwart Kenneth Kaunda, but after going through political transitions, Zambia seems to be on the right path to recovery. The latest elections brought in the Patriotic Front party and President Edgar Lungu has ushered in a group of leaders whose intentions are to bring back investor confidence to the Zambian economy.
Zambia has been experiencing positive economic growth in the recent past with an average real GDP growth rate of 6.4 % recorded between 2011 and 2015.The economic expansion has led to an increase in demand for power intensifying economic activities.
Zambia has been one of the best cooper producers in the world with a production of 708 tons in 2014 that puts mining as the main economic activity’ but according to His Excellency Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, Zambia is now thinking differently.
Speaking on the sidelines of the well attended inaugural Zambia-South Africa Business Council Forum, Mwamba, displayed a rebooted system ready to market and develop the north of Zambezi river.
“In previous years we have been relying on mining in cooper but now we have re-valued investment to consider untapped sectors such as agriculture, the change of leadership has re-ernegised our efforts to market Zambia,” he explains.
“We are looking forward to a diversified economy and South Africa is our biggest trading partner so there is need to enhance our relationship,” divulged Mwamba. South African Airways that previously serviced the capital Lusaka and Livingstone, now flies directly to Ndola from Johannesburg is a sign of progress.
Mwamba boasted that the infrastructural development plan is already driving investors and tourists through a smooth sailing across the 200 million populated nation.
“We have shifted our focus to renewable resources, we have plenty of water for the region, our policies have stabilised for investment and massive arable land lies in the countryside to be utilised by small scale farmers. “We are strategically located to serve the SADCC region as we share borders with eight countries,” he said.
“We have 40 percent of all the water in SADCC that leaves us with 6000 MW unexploited hydro power potential, in regards to that let’s promote export competitiveness,” he added.
Accompanied by the Minister for National Development and Planning, Honourable Lucky Mulusa, who sang the same tune of a re-invented Zambia.
Hon Mulusa revealed that a 14 to 99 years land lease awaits potential foreign investors with intentions to boost agro-processing. “Zambia has the most natural gas and water, we just need to invest more on such. 70% of our arable land has not been used” he said.
Unlike South Africa that has more commercial farmers and none small scale farmers, in Zambia the opposite is true, so let us commercialise the sector by empowering communities,” he said.
Hon Mulusa singled challenges in trade imbalances between the two countries as a stumble block to development for the region. He was optimistic that President Lungu’s re drafted policies will keep up with the dynamics of the markets to foster growth.
“In Zambia you will be greeted by herds of animals such as elephants or lions that is how we embrace visitors. Tourism is one of our major activities that we are pushing forward and we hope this will bring us regional and international gatherings to our friendly people,” on Mulusa added.
Zambia has one of the largest natural reservations escarpments in the world that includes Kafue National Park, Livingstone, Lower Zambezi and the Copper Belt.
The former Nedbank employee also warned on bad practices by some foreign companies suggesting that Zambia is open for investment but needs to be invested with dignity and fair practices.
One of Africa’s biggest investor, Barclays Africa, through their Regional Management Chief Executive Officer’ Mizinga Melu weighed in that north of the Zambezi, is a friendly environment for investment. With over 100 years in Zambia with 19 branches, Barclays has a good story to tell and CEO Mizinga Melu did just that.
“Government policies allow us to strive, they interlink with South Africa quite well. We have just introduced one of the most advanced mobile money facilities. There have been no instances of corruption activities by the government or any members of the business and that has propelled us to do more for the ever-friendly Zambian people,” she said.
She suggested a holistic approach in all sectors of the economy to make sure that the locals’ benefits from the investors.
In 2010, the World Bank named Zambia as one of the worlds fastest economically reformed countries that re-ignited economic interest into the once neglected economy.
Liberty SA has been in Zambia for a year and Massmart Holdings for 17 years with its chairperson Kuseni Dlamini indicating that the Zambian market is attractive to growth.
Exeo Capital’s Kenneth Sinclair who has been investing in agriculture revealed that Zambia has ‘great’ soils compared to its counterparts.
SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Alan Mukoki also added by warning potential investors in Zambia to be real investors not ‘infesters’ of their economy through policy compliance.