Analysis: CHARLES CHISALA
WITH only two weeks and a few days away from the Luapula Expo and Investment Conference, the business community in the provincial capital, Mansa, and nearby
districts are bracing to reap maximum economic benefits from the event.
The fair will be the first of its kind and resonates well with the government’s robust decentralisation programme.
Other provinces are already taking the cue.
The expo-cum-investment forum, which begins on July 26 and ends on July 31, 2017, is aimed at showcasing the region’s natural resources and woo local and foreign investors.
Provincial Minister Nickson Chilangwa says the provincial administration has identified economic development as the most effective weapon against runaway poverty, which stands at 82 percent.
Mr Chilangwa says the event is receiving massive support from government ministries and agencies, and the private sector.
This is according to a statement released by Africast Conferences & Exhibitions, which is the official manager of the expo on behalf of the government.
He cited the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), ministries of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Energy, Higher Education and Mining and Minerals Development.
SEEDCO and GED, which have pumped K450,000 into the expo, First National Bank (FNB), Sunbird, HASS Petroleum (US$10,000), CAMCO Equipment, Toyota Zambia, Trade Kings and 43 other local and foreign companies have joined the queue.
There is no reason why the expo should not be a resounding success and deliver important lessons for the other provinces that are planning to hold similar events.
Mr Chilangwa says the expo has generated so much interest that MultiChoice Zambia will assign its Zambezi TV on its DStv platform to cover it.
With Zambezi TV, the Luapula expo will be watched in about 16 African countries.
It will be a rare opportunity for foreign and local investors, policy-makers, decision-makers, financiers and captains of industry to meet and engage in serious business.
Many more companies are expected to register before July 26, 2017.
The fact that a provincial administration has managed to marshal such unprecedented support is a reflection of the benefits of decentralisation.
In the past it would have been organised by officers from Lusaka.
Besides attracting investments to the province in the key sectors of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, livestock, energy, tourism and mining, the expo will equip those directly involved with requisite expertise on how to hold such events in future, which can later be shared with other provinces.
And the local economy is expected to receive a boost through the sale of such services as accommodation, transport, communication and consumer goods such as artefacts, clothes, food and beverages.
The business community in Mansa and surrounding districts is already bracing for the expected boom.
There is already increased traffic to Lusaka’s Kamwala trading area as shop owners and those in the hospitality industry stock up in anticipation of increased demand for goods and services, which will be buoyed by the Umutomboko traditional ceremony.
As the organisers market tourism, it should also highlight its rich musical heritage as the engine room of kalindula music and the energetic akalela dance, which was employed to devastating effect in the fight against the colonial government in Luapula Province and later exported to the Copperbelt.
Local groups such as Sansamukeni Jazz Band and akalela troupes should entertain the delegates instead of ‘imports’ from Lusaka and the Copperbelt who will just spoil the party with their shallow computer-mastered play-back stuff.
According to Africast Conferences and Exhibitions, the benefits exhibitors and delegates should expect to harvest at the expo include:
• Generation of lucrative, highly targed business leads
• Learning what is working and what isn’t
• Development and strengthening of their brand, and
• Closing sales without causing resentment.
The Luapula Expo and Investment Conference expo is becoming a reality as the clock ticks towards July 26, 2017.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail production editor.