Editor's Comment

Step up provincial investments

Government complex.

REGIONAL investment expos are becoming a trend following the successful Luapula Province Expo in Mansa last year.This is a good trend.
Now, almost every other province is making efforts to hold one.
These should be held quickly, but of course without compromising on the reason for holding these events.
It is commendable that all other provinces have this task on the table because the responsibility of developing Zambia should not be left to central government alone.
Admittedly, the country is huge so are its developmental challenges.
Government is playing its part by levelling the playing field through the construction of public infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and roads.
There is so much that needs to be done to alleviate poverty as citizens in rural areas also deserve jobs and amenities which Government cannot provide overnight.
This is the gap that the private sector, investors in particular need to fill.
However, the private sector investors do not know what the country side has to offer because of scanty or total lack of information.
Yet this country has plenty to offer given the abundant natural resources and labour waiting to be utilised.
The Zambia Development Agency is attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) but these are largely concentrated in high population regions of the Copperbelt and Lusaka.
The other FDIs are linked to mineral exploration and that is what is found in parts of the country outside Lusaka and the Copperbelt.
If anything, Lusaka has been the major beneficiary of FDIs owing to its centrality, high population and as the hub of decision-making and financial capital.
It is delighting that some provincial administrations have not been sitting idly by, merely lamenting about the high poverty levels and critical under-development.
All provinces are expected to market their potential and begin to turn rhetoric into action. The Luapula Province administration set the pace last year by hosting its expo. The outcome was tremendous. What remains is the actualising of the many deals initiated.
The Central Province has since followed suit, so has the Northern Province. The Central region expo is billed for October 16 to 20 while the Northern Province will hold its expo from November 20 to 24 in Mbala.
These expos are also expected to also attract domestic direct investments (DDI). Development should not be left to foreigners only. If anything, it is better that local investors take up the challenges to limit externalisation of finances.
The northern circuit (Muchinga, Luapula and Northern) have massive unexplored opportunities that will hardly be identified without the authorities in these areas showcasing what is on offer particularly in tourism.
There are many tourist sites in Luapula and Northern as are found in Southern Province but many potential investors are unaware of them.
Regional expos are seeking to find anchor investors, those whose presence will pull other’s along.
This is where regional expos come in. Someone must take responsibility, provide the leadership and assume the role of the manager.
What the regional expos are demonstrating is that investment can actually be decentralised. The benefit will not only be in facilitating investments in the under-invested regions but more than grow FDI inflows into Zambia and also, much more importantly, promote equity in development, halt rural-urban migration and create more jobs.

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