Editor's Comment

Take advantage of trips

President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE ©2017

WE WELCOME the directive by President Edgar Lungu for ministers to be including businessmen and women in their delegations whenever they go on foreign trips to explore possible public private partnerships (PPPs).This is a new dimension Government has added to economic diplomacy to ensure more partnerships are created and built on.
President Lungu’s directive comes on the heels of fruitful meetings that ministers and other officials in his delegation held with the Turkish private sector comprising investors with interest to invest in Zambia
It, therefore, follows that when such trips are planned, it should start with the people in foreign missions to identify the opportunities in those countries and a decision can be made as to what follows next.
We expect that in future, businessmen and women selected to undertake foreign trips to explore PPPs should be undertaking investment roadshows in the countries where they are seeking PPPs as a way of registering their presence.
Going forward, ministers delegated to undertake such trips should work closely with organisations such as the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and the Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA), representatives of the defence and security wings.
These institutions will have a lot to learn as they begin to industrialise or add further value to their business segments.
They have made a bright start but to sustain the gains they have made so far, they need exposure from economies of countries that are way ahead. Turkey is one such country.
Apart from gaining knowledge like the other businesses being afforded exposure, they may also forge partnerships to leverage on what they have already started doing.
The Army, the Airforce, the Zambia National Service and the Correctional Service are already farming, but they will still need to explore other ways of maximising production.
There may also be need to bring along other sectors such as football so that our soccer governing body and clubs could be twinned for a win-win situation.
Trips to Turkey such as the one President Lungu led are a perfect opportunity for businesspersons, emerging entrepreneurs and State institutions to meet experts and benefit from tips and insights on business management.
Such exposure has a positive knock on effect on our economic diversification agenda as we aspire towards value addition of our raw materials.
Zambia’s agriculture and tourism sectors are on the right development trajectory.
It is through cooperation with countries like Turkey that the agriculture and tourism sectors can record more growth.
We live in a global village and we should always be ready to embrace what has worked elsewhere and transplant the best practices to Zambia.
We are in a country to develop but we cannot do it in a void. We have to compare notes with other countries.
The ZDA, ZAM and ZTA will have work cut out on such missions to explore investment opportunities, partner with manufacturers.
ZTA on the other hand should always use the platform to lure Turkish tourists to make Zambia their preferred investment destinations, what with talks for Turkish Airlines to be flying directly into Zambia.
It could also help Zambian businesses to begin exporting finished products into Turkey and other markets in that region as opposed to selling raw materials.
As ministers begin to digest President Lungu’s directive to include the business community in their trips, cost benefit analysis should be undertaken both for the short-term and long-term outcomes when ascertaining the worthiness of a foreign trip.

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