Editor's Comment

Expos must attract good investors

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu interacting with Chief Ishima from Zambezi District at the North-Western Province exposition in Solwezi yesterday. PICTURE: GOODSON LUPIYA

IT IS said that a good marketer can sell ice to an Eskimo and sand to a desert dweller. It shouldn’t be that tough though for Zambian marketers to promote Zambia to both local and international investors.
Oddly though, the marketing being done for Zambia falls far too short of the country’s expectations, given its expansive potential in various social and economic sectors. The marketers are failing the country.
This came to the fore, yet again, yesterday when President Edgar Lungu opened the Expo North-West Zambia 2019 under the theme, ‘Unveiling the Hidden Treasures’.
What have the marketers done to unveil these hidden treasures, not only in this province, but in other parts of the country, too?
Admittedly, in some areas, good efforts have been made to market the country, but it has not been good enough.
North-Western Province becomes the fifth province to host an investment expo after Luapula, Northern, Central and Copperbelt provinces. Luapula, the pioneer, seems to have done its homework best of all.
It is good that the country is awakening to the fact that passivity will never bring the desired investors and subsequent development.
It is also good that the country has realised that doing the same things it has always done will not produce different and desired results.
For instance, for a long time, Zambia relied mainly on the International Trade Fair held in Ndola and the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka as platforms for marketing through interaction with potential investors.
In other instances, delegations travel abroad to showcase Zambia’s potential at other international trade shows as well as private meetings.
While this may be good, the attention span for potential investors is usually divided because there are many other competing players from other countries. But when potential investors visit the country, attention is undivided.
Government is cognisant of the fact that each province has unique investment potential which must be exposed for exploitation by investors.
Government is concerned that despite the country being among the few richly endowed with natural resources, it has continued to wallow in poverty and underdevelopment.
In trying to find solutions to these challenges, Government realises that regardless of how richly endowed a country is with natural resources, if they are not exploited for the benefit of the people, they are only but decorative ornaments.
And obviously for these natural resources to be exploited they need to be exposed to the right people or investors. This is why President Lungu is calling for serious investors.
“As Government, we are looking to receive serious investors who will respect our national values, investors who will not abrogate labour laws and those who are not only interested in profit-making but those who are willing to plough back in communities where they operate from,” he said.
Certainly, what Zambia needs are good investors, and to attract good investors, we need good marketing strategies such as expositions.
It does not make sense for a province like North-Western, which is richly endowed with minerals, to continue wallowing in poverty.
As rightly observed by President Lungu, North-Western Province is endowed with investment prospects in mineral, oil and gas exploration, large and small-scale mining and renewable energy.
“I am also aware that there is potential for hydro-power generation in Mwinilunga, Chavuma and Zambezi districts. There are also numerous prospects in multi-fruit processing plants as well as high-quality honey production, which is still untapped,” he said.
As long as the potential of the province remains undercover and untapped, it is difficult to attract investors and get the much desired value.
There are investors out there with so much money looking for opportunities where to invest.
On the other hand, there are also many countries competing for the same investors.
It is therefore important to devise effective marketing strategies to showcase the country’s investment opportunities to attract credible investors capable of giving value for the natural resources.
Holding investment expos is no doubt one effective way to market the country’s investment opportunities.
Through expos, potential investors are furnished with information on the available investment opportunities.
They are also provided with information on the available incentives and procedures to invest in various sectors through the Zambia Development Agency and other related stakeholders.
It is therefore commendable that North- Western, like other provinces, has jumped on the expo wagon.
Every province has investment opportunities and cannot, therefore, afford to let this wind of expos currently blowing in the country by-pass it.
While it is good that many provinces are jumping on board to adopt the expos’ marketing strategy, it is important to ensure that these events produce desired results.
It would be pointless to spend so much money in organising an event and yet get no return.
It is, therefore, hoped that the planning of these expos is done with measurable short, medium and long-term goals.
There is also need to package these investment opportunities in a way that guarantees investments.
For instance, by now, we should be able to point at some of the short-term or immediate successes of the expos held so far.
For instance, for all the expos held so far, there were many investment pledges. There is need to declare how many of these have materialised so far.
Those charged with responsibility to organise these expos have a daunting but honourable task to ensure success.
And success is not measured by hosting but the number of investments secured.

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