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Private sector is key in creating wealth

Investment Forum with MARGARET CHIMANSE
THE primary objective of the government through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) is “To foster Zambia’s economic growth and development” by promoting trade and investment in Zambia through an efficient, effective and coordinated private sector-led economic strategy.
The vision of the ZDA is to have “A prosperous middle income Zambia with increased job opportunities for all.”
This can be achieved through increasing and expanding non-traditional exports by providing value addition and diverse products into existing and new markets; identifying investment opportunities and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and local direct investment (LDI) as well as promoting re-investment in the priority sectors of the economy.
Promoting the growth and development of the Zambian emerging private sector is key in creating wealth and generating employment including facilitating the establishment of multi-facility economic zones and industrial parks.
The goal of the ZDA is to contribute to the creation of wealth and one million jobs for the benefit of Zambians by 2020.
Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe says encouraging people to become employers is one of the key elements to the growth of the private sector and fostering of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Mrs Mwanakatwe says it is the reason why government has developed special programmes to develop small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).
“We promote these programmes through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and also the Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission, which sits under my ministry. They provide training for people, and especially for young people, on how to run a business, how to manage a bank account, how to reduce costs, how to be efficient, and all the other related subjects,” explained the Minister.
Mrs Mwanakatwe adds that there are also other partners that are supporting government efforts in the growth of the private sector and fostering entrepreneurial spirit.
“The Swedes have been very helpful. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation have also been very helpful, particularly in the SMEs development area, by making sure that we had the right skill-set for SMEs to flourish and this is making Zambia to become a lot more entrepreneurial I believe,” she said.
Mrs Mwanakatwe states that government has a deliberate policy of prioritising women empowerment by giving 40 percent of Citizen’s Economic Empowerment Commission funds to women.
She says economic emancipation through women is something that can turn this country around.
Responding to a question on her strategy on investment summits, she says she is trying to move away from generic investment promotion.
“I have 750,000 square kilometres of land, 40 percent of the water resources in sub-Saharan Africa. I need to package and market project specifics. You need to make people be keen to say: ‘Oh, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. I’m willing to bet my dollar on that; I’m willing to invest US$2 billion, US$3 billion, and US$5 billion for that project.’ That’s the way I’d like to take investment promotion into Zambia,” explained Mrs Mwanakatwe.
Commenting on the reduction in the amount of non-traditional exports Mrs Mwanakatwe states that the downturn in the economy has not just affected Zambia but the entire globe.
She adds that the load shedding the country is experiencing has had an impact on the performance of the industry. However she expressed optimism that the downturn in the economy was a short term one.
“In the medium term I see things improving mainly because of what we are concentrating on as a government and in my ministry in particular, non-traditional exports will grow,” stated the Minister.
“I am happy to say that very recently I was able to sign, after much negotiation, a bilateral agreement that allows us to export to Congo on a duty-free basis. This, I believe, will spur non-traditional exports, like cement, sugar, and many others that are likely to grow more due to this market in our backyard,” she explained.
She says that if the country can build up the capacity within its industries, we can use Angola as a market.
The minister urged the country to position itself for the tripartite trading block which has close to 750 million people and take advantage of this great opportunity for business.
The inister says that she is happy that now Zambian honey has finally entered the South African market.
She adds that government is also trying to support industries such as honey, pineapples and cassava to strengthen the value chain and to be able to produce non-traditional exports
Inevitably in order to transform the economy and create more jobs there is need to establish more growth-oriented enterprises particularly agri-businesses and a deliberate drive to support entrepreneurship development to create jobs opportunities for all.
For Further Information Contact:
The Public Relations Manager
Zambia Development Agency,
Nasser Road,
P.O. Box 30819, Lusaka.
Tel: +260 211 229240/220177
Fax: +260 211 225270