Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo says Government is committed to supporting the growth of the local manufacturing sector.
Mr Lusambo said Government will continue supporting manufacturing companies as part of its broader strategy on industrialisation.
Mr Lusambo who is also Kabushi Member of Parliament was speaking on Tuesday when he undertook a familiarisation tour of the ZAMEFA plant in Lusaka.
The Copperbelt Minister said he was impressed with the level of investment that ZAMEFA has pumped in which has seen it produce world class products.
He said the PF Government will support companies such as ZAMEFA by ensuring that foreign contractors working on various infrastructure development projects in the country buy and use local products from companies like ZAMEFA.
“Let me assure you that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s administration is pro-business and that it will do everything possible to protect these kind of world class investment in our country by giving you the required support,” Mr Lusambo said.
He added, “As Government, our role is to encourage foreign contractors working on various projects to emphasise the aspect of local content in their procurement. There is no justification for the continued importation of copper cables when firms like ZAMEFA are producing international quality products locally.”
Mr Lusambo said President Lungu recently launched various massive infrastructure development projects on the Copperbelt adding that as Minister, he will ensure that contractors procure some of their requisites locally to grow the manufacturing sector.
And ZAMEFA Managing Director Roseta Chabala appealed to Government for increased support to the manufacturing sector if the sector is to survive.
“Government is the biggest buyer in the market so you have to support us or else most of the manufacturers will not survive,” Mrs Chabala said.
“The construction industry has been moving at a very high speed, contributing about 20 percent to GDP but we haven’t seen the same in the manufacturing sector. There must be a relationship between the growth in construction and the growth in manufacturing because the manufacturers give the raw materials to the construction industry especially those in building materials but we haven’t benefitted from that and we believe there must be deliberate policies to ensure that the local industries benefit from the booming construction industry.”
She said, “We have seen a lot of projects, we have airports now where we could get a lot of support, we have got schools across the country, some of those cables are not from here and that has killed us is what we are calling the turn key projects. When we give the turnkey projects to the Chinese then it gives them a blanket cheque to import everything, so in those projects, the only thing we can do is to allow for a high threshold of local content to force them to use some of the local products here.”
Mrs Chabala who is also President of the Zambia Association of Manufacturers said Government has a role to play in growing the manufacturing sector.
“We have seen your Government building in Lusaka, Kamwala area, nothing in that building is Zambian including cable. So we can’t explain to the next generation why we didn’t grow the manufacturing sector and government should support a lot more in procurement of local products because you are the biggest buyer then we can go and fight on the market for the rest of the people that buy,” Mrs Chabala said.