Columnists Features

China-trained professionals resourceful

China’s growing economic and cultural influence has had a positive impact on Zambia’s socio-economic landscape. As part of the spinoffs from the China-Zambia relations, which date back to 1964, some Zambians educated in China are ready to empower locals with skills. They have formed an association to drive the novel initiative, as BENEDICT TEMBO reports.
AS LOCAL account manager in Ecobank Zambia, Danny Kombe  Malombola is responsible for business development and relationship management.
Mr Malombola, who is head of the Chinese business unit at the corporate bank, leads a team for commercial banking business with large multinational Chinese corporate companies operating within the corporate banking space in Zambia.
He formulates and executes a business development strategy for the team to build a pipeline of commercial banking prospects and opportunities.
Mr. Malombola utilises internal and external networks to attract commercial banking prospects, including centres of influence, networking events, industry conferences as well as calling on new prospects to identify new business or referral opportunities.
He also assists in closing deals across all product groups and achieves individual business development revenue goals.
The man, who sources and evaluates all new credit opportunities and partners with product specialists to cross sell the bank’s products, pre-screens qualified loan opportunities, structuring deals to balance risk/rewards.
He is also actively involved in pitching, structuring, negotiating and closing new transactions.
Mr Malombola possesses sound competence in lending, trade finance, treasury, cross border and cash management products.
The corporate banker, who previously worked for Investrust Bank Plc as corporate relationship manager, his role is key to Ecobank’s strategy in the corporate bank in line with the increase of Chinese influence in the global economy.
Ecobank is opening up Chinese units in various countries to service this unique client base. Ecobank is present in 36 countries in Africa and has representative offices in Beijing, London and Dubai as well as full operations in Paris.
Mr Malombola, who has held this position for one year went to the prestigious Renmin University of China (The People’s University)located in China’s capital city, Beijing.
Renmin is one of the top universities in China and the knowledge he gained helps him to perform this role at Ecobank.
The man, who did economics as a major from 2004 to 2009, is not the only China-trained Zambian holding a lofty position.
Others are Durban Kambaki, who is deputy general manager at Good Time Steel, who pursued engineering with textiles (major)at Donghua University from 1981 to 1987, and William Tembo, a director at Oriental Connexion Limited who also doubles as business consultant-cum-interpreter. He did water resources engineering at Hehai University from 1985 to 1990.
Arnold Ngowani, a business-cum-Chinese consultant, studied economics at Donghua University in Shanghai.
Friday Mulenga, a beneficiary of a Chinese government scholarship, pursued a degree course in transportation engineering at Northern Communications University in Beijing China in 1978.
Mr Mulenga, the airport manager at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport says: “My experience of studying in China moulded me into a Chinese person in character and this is exhibited by my good work ethics of Honesty and hard work.
“My professional success is therefore attributed to my rich academic background acquired in China due to the high quality educational standards.”
Mr Kambaki, Mr Malombola, Mr Mulenga, Mr Ngowani and Mr Tembo are just but a fraction of Zambians who have trained in China, now the second largest economy in the world, due to rapid advancement in science and technology.
With China playing a significant role in world affairs and the East Asian giant enjoying unprecedented political and economic ties with Zambia, the alumni from various colleges and universities from that country have come together to share experiences and expertise by forming a network.
The network called the Zambia – China Old Students Association (ZACOSA) is celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations between Zambia and China.
Beyond that, ZACOSA members are looking at individually contributing to the development of the country through social, cultural and educational ties with China.
Mr Malombola said of all China’s trading partners in Africa, Zambia is one of the major beneficiaries.
“The multi-facility zone at Chambishi is the first in Africa, the first outside of China,” Mr Malombo said.
He said it cannot be denied that in Africa, Zambia is one of Africa’s trading partners of China.
“We came up with activities to coincide with 50 years of diplomatic ties with China,” Mr Mulenga, the ZACOSA chairperson, said.
The activities include membership mobilisation, campaigns and tours of Chinese investments in Zambia and awareness raising.
“The Chinese presence in Zambia is here to stay. As former students, we have to support both investments [Chinese in Zambia and Zambians in China],” Mr Mulenga said.
He said ZACOSA members are also ready to offer advice to people who intend to invest in China and parents who wish to send their children to China for studies.
ZACOSA has identified language and cultural barriers to doing trade between Zambia and China.
And Mr Kambaki said ZACOSA wants to bridge the cultural and language barrier through the Confucius Institute based at the University of Zambia where Chinese is being taught.
“What is there is that Zambians are learning Chinese, we want to teach the Chinese the Zambian languages,” Mr Kambaki said.
ZACOSA is also concerned that most Zambian workers do not understand Chinese work culture. In China, it is routine to work eight hours on weekends but when Chinese investors ask Zambian workers to work either on Saturday or Sunday, they complain of harassment, hence their employers are cited for flouting labour laws.
“The work ethic in China is different, they are more time-oriented, it is the output which is cardinal,” Mr Kambaki said.
“We are also in a better position to interact with Chinese counterparts about work ethics in Zambia. As ZACOSA, we are promoting a win-win situation between China and Zambia. In doing so, we are fostering partnerships through joint ventures between Chinese and Zambians,” Mr Ngowani said.
Through the partnerships, Mr Ngowani said Zambians will benefit from technological and skills transfer.
“Zambia stands to benefit from this mutual co-operation. China now is the second largest economy with US$4 trillion in foreign reserves and US$8 trillion in Gross Domestic Product,” Mr Kambaki said.

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