Zambian business people appealed to their South African counterparts to invest in manufacturing and agro-processing in Zambia.
Ms. Roseta Mwape-Chabala, president of the Zambia Association of Manufacturers, said Zambians appreciated South Africans’ investment in malls and franchising in their country, but appealed to them to put the same energy and enthusiasm into “productive sectors”.
Mwape-Chabala spoke at the second meeting of the South Africa-Zambia Business Forum, held at Freedom Park in Pretoria in South Africa yesterday.
She referred to trade imbalance between the two countries, with Zambia importing South African goods to the value of US$ 3,5 billion, while South African only imports Zambian goods to the value of US$ 586 million.
“Surely there can be a beter way to balance this trade?” she said. “We consume a lot a of South African products, but South African consumes very little of Zambian products.”
Come see Zambia
She asked for the next forum meeting to be held in Zambia.
“It is important that the South African business community gain exposure into the Zambian market, that they see our way of doing business and be in a beter position to tap into the vast opportunities that are on offer.”
Mwape-Chabala said the two countries should not compete, but rather focus on what he each can do well.
“We have a lot of land, and our land is fertile. It is a real comparative advantage that we have, but we don’t have machinery.”
Mwape-Chabala said the budget Zambia approved earlier this year, was a “pro agriculture budget” with a lot of incentives, including with regards to equipment. She said there was a lot of potential to invest in the agro-processing industry. She said agriculture in Zambia was no longer just about maize, but included many products.
“It has opened up opportunities to invest.”
She said Zambia had an excess of maize and was self-sufficient regarding wheat and many other crops. The issue was to be able to add value to these products.
She said investors should remember that their potential market was not just the population of Zambia, but also of neighbouring countries.
“Why not tap into the Zambian market? It will also give you a stepping stone into Eastern Africa.”
Mr Matongo Matamwandi, director of investments at the Zambia Development Agency, said “agriculture is the way to go for Zambia”. He said agriculture contributed to food security and could create employment.
“We normally have a soft spot for investors in this sector,” he said.
Matamwandi referred to the farm blocks identified in each province and said investors will get help from the agency.
He also referred to investment opportunities regarding the shortage of grain storage facilities. “We are probably the only country in the region that has extra stock of maize, but storage is a problem.”
Matamwandi also spoke about Zambia’s energy problems and said with the country having a serious deficit in terms of power, they were looking for investors in the energy sector.
“It is important and critical,” he said.
Global value chains
Ms Pumla Ncapayi, deputy director-general of the South African Departement of Trade and Industry, reminded business people to not only think regionally, but also globally.
“While it is heartening to note the growing investment ties between our countries, it is also important to urge our business communities to focus on global value chains. It is through such measures that we will escape global challenges that affect us all,” she said.
Ncapayi said the South Africa-Zambia Business Forum was established to seek ways to build partnerships and cooperation opportunies between the economies of the two countries, particularly in advanced manufacturing, mining, agro-processing, energy, services and infrastructure sectors. – CARIEN KRUGER