FOR decades, the USA has been famous for being a land of opportunity because it provides salvation to dreams and is a place where fantasies can be transformed into real life.
Millions of immigrants from around the world flock there to pursue and fulfil their dreams.
It is claimed all one has to do is work hard and America pays for it. But if you are among those unfortunate ones who have found themselves on the wrong side of the new â€œAmerica Firstâ€ policy, take heart; Zambia may serve as an alternative destination.
Like the USA, it has a number of rags to riches stories of immigrants who came with nothing except a dream but today are living successful lives they never dreamt possible in the countries of birth.
Zambia offers plenty of opportunities for creating more such hope-filled stories.
Power deficits in the country and the consequential importation of expensive emergency power amidst a fiscal deficit are a source of stress for the treasury. However, with an estimated 6,000MW unexploited hydro power potential, an estimated growth in demand of between 150MW and 200MW per annum and the current move towards cost-reflective electricity tariffs, entrepreneurs or independent power producers can now invest in generation and sale of electricity to Zesco profitably.
Helping Government to arrange a cost-effective financing package for the over US$40 million monthly power import bill is another million dollar opportunity capable of making one laugh all the way to the bank.
At a growth rate of about three percent, Zambiaâ€™s population is projected to increase to about 25 million by 2030.
However, the country still has inadequate infrastructure, shortages of equipment and insufficient health staff which limit access to health care and also relies heavily on imported medical gloves.
With none of its eight neighbours having enough reliable manufacturers of these medical tools, setting up glove manufacturing company in Zambia would be a lucrative business opportunity with a potential target market of over 200 million people taking into account the population of her neighbours.
Seen with the right lenses, topical issues like the current fiscal deficit and the approaching Eurobond maturities, which give the treasury sleepless nights, are opportunities disguised as insurmountable national problems.
Arranging a refinancing of these bonds at a lower price or creatively restructuring them so that Government gets some breathing space to build repayment capacity or financing some of the governmentâ€™s initiatives aimed at increasing its revenue base in order to improve its capacity to service domestic and external debt, are all money making opportunities waiting to be exploited by sharp witted financiers.
Shopping malls are springing up everywhere donned with South African leading retail brands which seemingly offer consumers a lot of options but finding slacks with the right lengths as a man still remains a challenge. An apparel business catering for the big and tall, regular and the short which saves consumers the time and cost of visiting a tailor for alterations every time they buy a new piece of cloth is niche that remains unexploited.
With about US$300 million spent annually on the Farmers Input Support Programme most of which goes towards importation of fertiliser and raw materials for Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), there is plenty of money to be made as a supplier or trade financier of these imported commodities. A joint venture initiative with NCZ or establishing a new fertilizer plant is all opportunities worth exploring.
Zambia has proven oil reserves (at least for now) and relies completely on petroleum imports which cost it over US$700 million per annum.
Thus supplying or financing these imports remains a lucrative business opportunity.
Also if the governmentâ€™s planned disengagement from direct importation of petroleum products succeeds, there will be even more room for private sector play. New opportunities will also emerge such as investing in storage facilities for lease as most players currently do not have enough storage facilities of their own.
Instead of engaging in perennial wars with the government over maize floor prices, farmers of any size can now venture into goat rearing for export to Saudi Arabia, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo and earn millions of dollars.
Other Middle Eastern countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Egypt are all hungry for goats. In 2015, Somalian traders pocketed more than US$384 million from goat exports to Saudi Arabia alone.
With the abundant unutilised land in the country, goat rearing offers a viable alternative farming business and a poverty reduction proposition for all ages.
Discerning entrepreneurs can also invest and help with better ways of implementing the â€œKeep Zambia Cleanâ€ campaign such as importation commercial street sweepers and negotiating cleaning contracts with councils and corporates instead of the current backward use of handheld brooms for cleaning streets in the cities.
While the over 22 licensed general insurance companies are busy fightingÂ for meagre motor vehicle premiums to the extent of pushing the government to enact a law compelling â€˜tukunboâ€™ owners to display insurance disks on their vehicles, there is a trade credit insurance market with big premium tickets waiting unexploited.
There is consensus that Zambiaâ€™s infrastructure, health care, education, media, political and governance systems still require a lot of improvements.
The deliberations and operations of Manda Hill are nowhere closer to what obtains at Capitol Hill but in the midst of all these shortcomings, as a country surrounded by eight neighbours with a combined population of about 200 million people, Zambia offers unlimited money-making opportunitiesÂ which are disguised as problems. How far one rises in the social and economic ladder depends on what and how they choose to see things. I see the money.
The author, Kalengo Simukoko, is finance and economic commentator and a director at United Bank for Africa (UBA).
Show me the money