More money, opportunities in value-addition process

EVANS Ngoma.

ONE of the key focus areas of the BuyZed campaign is facilitation of stakeholder interaction through provision of various platforms for exchange of information on how to enhance the socio-economic being of the country.From the discussions, various scenarios are explored and debated. Ultimately, there is consensus that we all as a people in our humble way have a lot in common and all have a role to play to make our country great.
We recently had an informal interaction with colleagues from various sectors, where the issue of the state of our economy arose.
One pertinent view from the discussion was that Zambia is economically strained. The ordinary man on the street is hardly getting by.
This is against the background that Zambia is a resource-rich country with a lot of potential, yet there is nothing much to write home about for many. We are like a fruit that looks so well from the outside but inside it is full of ants (nkhuyu).
Many factors can be attributed to this sad state of affairs – both macro and micro.
One major question is how we can turn what we currently have and make more from it.
The answer was two-fold – let’s develop an instinct as a country of deliberately supporting our own and, secondly, we need to have a big paradigm shift from net raw material exporters to value addition.
Most of our sectors, if not all, have a raw material. The issue for the various stakeholders in each of those sectors is how we can collectively work together as a people and country to enhance and increase value of our products. This is doable. Some in so many sectors are doing it and if only it can be duplicated, or even quadrupled, we would start to enjoy the benefits.
Ours as BuyZed is to create synergies and platforms. There have been some success stories that, in our view, are worth using as models to learn from and we will highlight some of them.
Value addition indeed requires investment. Since we have raw materials, what we need is mindset change, seeing the opportunities and harnessing the potential hereof for the benefit of all of us.
With massive infrastructure development and construction going on in the country, opportunities have arisen for employment, contract supplying or offering support services. This is very commendable.
One company has demonstrably embraced the construction opportunity, started value addition and in turn reduced the cost of the product by more than 45 percent as an import substitute while maintaining, if not exceeding, product quality.
The investors pumped in excess of US$35 million. That’s no mean initial outlay. But the story is all the raw materials are found locally.
We would like to challenge various stakeholders to put there heads together in adding value to the mukula tree. We should not export raw timber but produce high end furniture.
Let’s keep our eyes on what can make us grow, use what we have and grow ourselves.
The author is the founder of the BuyZed Campaign.

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