The Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD) would like to laud the government for making the bold decision to reserve certain businesses for Zambians.
This decision is commendable because it will go a long way in empowering local people, especially women and youths.
This week, the government announced that foreigners will not be allowed to trade in poultry production, processing and marketing, block-making, quarrying and domestic haulage for all public procurements such as hauling maize for the Food Reserve Agency or supply of poles for Zesco Limited.
The government has indicated that foreign investors can only engage in poultry production and processing, quarrying and block-making and domestic haulage through joint ventures with Zambian citizens.
The ZCSD lauds the government policy directive because in our view, it is aimed at promoting the participation and empowerment of Zambians in small-scale entrepreneurships, which has largely been infiltrated by foreigners.
The participation of foreigners in businesses, which Zambians can conduct was unfair because it had relegated Zambians to mere spectators in the economic affairs of the country considering their lack of opportunities to assessing capital.
We feel that the empowerment of local citizens is important if the current levels of poverty and growing inequality are to be reduced significantly and government has an opportunity to realize the empowerment of people through such policy direction.
We also wish to advise government to ensure that economic empowerment programmes are directed to areas where local citizens will comparative advantage over foreign investment.
Small-scale small businesses are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of local economies and this is a critical aspect in development and the poverty reduction agenda.
The policy directive by the government presents new employment opportunities and will serve as the major source of income for many citizens.
There is also need for the government to ensure that citizens, especially women and youths have access to land, which is on title so that this asset can be used as collateral and capital if the policy directive on empowerment is to be realized. Access to land will also facitate and advantage citizens with partnership opportunities with foreign investors.
The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA must be more accountable in investment appraisals and strengthening its imonitoring role and ensuring that foreigners only participate in entrepreneurship activities where they are qualified.
Further, we would like to urge the government to prioritise areas of investment such as agriculture, where local people can establish joint ventures with foreign investors.