Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO
THE pioneer Luapula Province investment expo held in 2017 has inspired all the nine other regions of Zambia to showcase their investment potential.
Central and Northern provinces have since followed suit. The Northern Province capped it off with the centenary celebrations of the First World War.
The recent conduct of the expos by the Luapula, Central and Northern provincial administrations presents a turning point in the business promotion in Zambia, particularly investment and tourism promotion.
The three expos have in every sense of the word been an eye-opener in that they have exposed the massive investment potential in Zambia.
Zambia is endowed with massive natural resources, which remain untapped.
The administrations of the provinces, which have already held successful expos, deserve a pat on the back for providing leadership and guidance in the manner that these three events were organised and publicised.
This is what provincial administrations should be consistently doing in order to continue attracting both local and foreign investors.
It is only through exploitation of the huge resources that Zambia possesses that the country can develop.
It is these initiatives that will result in employment creation and poverty reduction, thereby spreading out development to all parts of Zambia. They will also force outward migration because there will be abundant opportunities in the countryside.
Government must grant more autonomy to the provincial governments to manage their own economic and investment programmes and planning.
The successful holding of the three expos is a vivid example that provincial permanent secretaries and their teams can be more innovative and industrious in taking the lead towards full economic development and social change.
However, for these expos to have meaningful impact, focus must be on sectors in which they have a comparative advantage.
For instance, Lusaka can promote the development of a conference city in the lower Zambezi. The place is not far from Lusaka, especially with the Leopards Hill Road bypass.
Southern Province, which is planning to host its expo in September this year, should therefore focus on sectors in which the region has natural endowment.
The expo will be held from September 9 to 15 in Livingstone, with districts showcasing sectors in which they have a competitive edge: Namwala for livestock, Siavonga and Sinazongwe for fishing in the Lake Kariba, and mining in Kalomo.
“The aim of the expo is for the province to exhibit the investment opportunities,” provincial Permanent Secretary Mwangala Liomba says.
Timing of the expo is another factor. That time of the year, the Victoria Falls’ water levels will be at an all-time low.
For the Southern Province, it would make sense to hold the expo in May so that the Victoria Falls is properly showcased.
Zambia has done a terrible job of selling this showpiece.
That is why some South African tour operators are selling packages in which the Victoria Falls is seemingly in that country.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail editorials editor.
Analysis: BENEDICT TEMBO