Yesterday evening we were honoured to address members of the Zambian Diaspora and South African business community in Johannesburg, including representatives from the South African Chamber of Commerce.
We enjoyed meeting many of the audience members in the interactions that followed, and we talked a lot about the various opportunities and challenges that exist in the region currently.
It is clear that there is untapped appetite for investing more into Zambian businesses and sectors, but there is also understandable concern about some of the issues that we are facing such as the power shortages and exchange rate volatility. The point of these forums is not to spread ‘doom and gloom’, but to have an open and honest discussion about how to remove any current barriers to investment and then get things moving. This is the essence of constructive dialogue.
We talked about opportunities in various sectors, notably agriculture, our ambitions for double-digit growth and attracting greater investment into the country. We spoke about the vast opportunity that exists for investment into projects that will help diversify our crop and in areas of value-addition that we are very keen to promote because of the numerous knock-on benefits that come from this area. By adding value locally we can lower pressure on food prices and exchange rate pressure and create additional jobs.
We are always informing our policies based on consultation and again what we are hearing is that more investment can be brought into Zambia but we need to do three things better: 1. Marketing our country and defining the opportunities 2. Providing stable and clear business regulations 3. Sorting out the problems in the energy sector that drive up costs and create added uncertainty. A stable and conducive environment for business is well within our reach if we cut the waste, cut the red tape and the reduce the time and cost of securing various permits.
We would like to thank those who made it to the talk this evening for their time and such a warm welcome. We hope to host you in Lusaka soon where we can move our discussions forward.