ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka
IN LIGHT of the dynamic evolution of trade and investment in the African region in recent years, the Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa Initiative (PIGA) project supported by UKaid has embarked on efforts aimed at connecting African and Chinese businesses to increase investment and spur economic growth.
This is to foster opportunities for inclusive growth and diversification in four African countries, namely Zambia, Kenya, Mozambique and Ethiopia.
It is in this context that the export and investment potential assessment training took place in Lusaka last week.
A diverse group of public and private stakeholders to explore Zambia’s potential for growth and diversification opportunities was brought together.
After meeting for five days, the team consisting of 20 experts on trade and investment issues had their skills in these fields sharpened. The participants strengthened their analytical skills using free International Trade Centre (ICT) market analysis tools.
The training also encouraged participants to increase their practical skills through hands-on exercises. The trainees produced assessments for export and investment opportunities for growing Zambian products including precious stones, sugar, wood products, and beverages.
PIGA country consultant Shupi Mweene is upbeat on the training and said it helped in strengthening the participants’ skills on how they can improve investment promotion.
Mrs Mweene said the project is focusing on helping companies that deal in agro processing, light manufacturing sectors, and institutions whose role is to promote increased investment.
“We want them to be in partnership and be frontline institutions and also they should be able to present investment opportunities to investors,” she said.
Workshop trainer from the International Trade Centre, Anna Jankowska- Eriksson, said the training helped the participants to identify opportunities in Zambia with the aim of supporting development efforts by creating new jobs and moving towards a more diversified and resilient economy.
Ms Eriksson said the training further highlighted opportunities for Chinese investments in new sectors that could be advantageous for both countries, while at the same time strengthening participants’ capabilities for identifying Zambia’s untapped export potential.
The team trained under the auspices of PIGA, which is a partnership of the government of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland’s Department for International Development, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, China- Africa Development Fund and the International Trade Centre.
The participants were drawn from business associations such as the Dairy Association of Zambia (DAZ), the Zambian Aquaculture Association, the Zambia Association of Manufacturers and the Economics Association of Zambia.
Other participants included those from government offices such as the Central Statistical Office, Zambian Development Agency and Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.
Most of them were enthusiastic that the capacity building training on trade and investments provided them with tangible skills that could be applied in investment and export promotion.
“I now have a better understanding of investment and exports analysis and will be able to advise my organisation when I get back,” Elijah Munyama one of the participants from DAZ said in an interview.
Beaming with confidence, Mr Munyama said the training further showcased what are the export potential areas in the world for specific products.
He said the training also made him understand trade barriers as well as the importance of considering the distance to the target market for the goods.
“Now I understand which country we should sell our products to because I know the strengths and weaknesses of the sector. I also now know that there is need for investing in equipment such as for pasture production and processing,” Mr Munyama said.
Another participant from the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), Sampa Chilanga said the training was insightful and opened her mind.
Ms Chilanga, who is, research and policy analyst said some of the skills she learnt during the training include the Export Potential Map to look for Zambia’s export potential.
“When you click on this map you are able to see Zambia’s exports and untapped potential. It further shows which countries are untapped markets for products from Zambia. In addition, we explored opportunities for increasing Zambia’s export potential by leveraging investments in these areas from China,” she said.
ZDA assistant enterprise development officer David Mweemba said he now feels more confident in advising entrepreneurs that seek advice from his office.
Mr Mweemba said he learnt many things, including the importance of knowing the tariffs that exist between the trading countries.
With the training successfully conducted, what remains is for the participants to put their skills to use in creating new economic opportunities in Zambia. This will in turn bring a lot of benefits to the country.