Zambians hope you brought hot spring investors from Sweden to Zambia.
I don’t know about foreign direct investment. Perhaps Zambia is attracting more from Sweden through the mission there. Investment? That reminds me of something important. At the front page of the Zambian Embassy in Sweden website, there is a picture of Rev. Edith Mutale, then Ambassador in Sweden, presenting her credentials of accreditation to Iceland President Olufur Grimsson in January 2014 who, “Urged the government to make good use of hot springs found in various parts of Zambia and generate geo-thermal energy which is used in the production of various forms of energy including electricity, as the case is in Iceland.” The actual title of the article is, “Zambia is sitting on a Gold Mine.” I hope this investment opportunity was turned into actual investment or is in the process of being so given the good words coming from the outgoing caretaker Ambassador Mutwita as one of the “looking good” achievements. And maybe there are social and educational benefits coming from Sweden.
In terms of trade with Sweden, Zambia is not looking good
But, in terms of trade with Sweden, Zambia is not looking good at 53, Mr. Anthony Mukwita. Sweden and other developed countries will tell you that trade is one simple way to create wealth; that they are tired of providing handouts to countries like Zambia and would rather African countries like Zambia rely more on trade. Zambia’s foreign policy has also undergone transformation, promising more trade promotion than political activities that often inflate the importance of foreign service. Others with strong words will tell you, “Trade or stay poor.” You yourself may have pledged to promote trade in your embassy life. The problem is, when Zambians are not privileged to figures, but only public statements of “looking good,” it is difficult for them to judge the performance of Embassies.
But when figures are made available to them, they are more likely to make better informed points. Looking at statistics, I find that Zambia’s trade with Sweden, a country where you served as Charge Affairs is a bigger joke than trade with South Africa. I found that Zambia’s exports of goods to that country totaled only $3.5 million, yes only $3.5 million or $4 million as reported by Sweden and imports only $53.8 million leading to a trade deficit of -$50.3 million (Figure 1). This is incredibly too low Sir. Zambia cannot look good at 53 with these joke figures, can it? How does the Embassy in Sweden promote Zambia’s trade? Is there a trade promotion plan providing specific targets?
Is Zambia competitive in Sweden among other African countries?
The answer is no. I am sure the Ambassador would say, “We are simply there without bothering about other countries’ performance. We don’t even know how much we export and import. So, why should we know about other Countries? Or no one teaches us these figures, so why are you talking about figures? Or, in any case, headquarters doesn’t bother us about performance. They only post us here to work and none of them ever bothers to contact us after we have left Zambia.” Well, it would important to track competitive performance of other countries. Table 1 below shows that Zambia’s ranking in the African countries exports of goods to Sweden is number 15. Although the exports in absolute values even for other countries are low, to be number 15 is proof of a culture of non-competitiveness.
Table 1: Zambia’s ranking in African countries’ Exports of goods to Sweden in $ Millions
Sweden’s Ranking in Zambia’s Export Markets
Among Zambia’s export markets in the world, Sweden ranks number 14(Table 2). Please promote Zambia’s to enable Sweden become one of its biggest export markets. You can do this by focusing on non-traditional products. Talk to the business community there to find out what their prospective imports are from Zambia. Find out from the Zambian business community potential export products. Well, now that you are going to Germany, please do a similar thing and try to improve Zambia’s trade which, now, as we reported in the article a few weeks ago is embarrassingly too low. I think you should do more action than talk.
Table 2:Sweden’s’ Ranking in Zambia’s Export Markets in $ Millions
|3||Dem. Rep. of the Congo||386|
|5||United Arab Emirates||351|
|8||China, Hong Kong SAR||92|
What products is Zambia importing from Sweden?
This question is important because it is here that we can see whether we are importing relevant machinery from that country to boost our industrial development for trade. From Table 2, we can see that from the low amounts of absolute values of $16 million, $5million, etc, this type of machinery is inferior. How can useful machinery be costing $ 20 million or below? I can understand that even if we are not exporting substantial number of products to that country, trade is too sided, meaning at least if we were importing productive machinery and inputs for production, that would justify the Embassy. But in this case, I wonder what the Embassy does.
Table 2: Zambia’s Main Imports from Sweden in $ Thousands
|[TOTAL] Total all products||53,805|
| Civil engineering & contractors’ plant & equipment||16,922|
| Paper and paperboard||5,992|
| Telecommunication equipment, n.e.s.; & parts, n.e.s.||3,776|
| Pumps (excluding liquid), gas compressors & fans; centr.||2,150|
| Parts & accessories of vehicles of 722, 781, 782, 783||2,070|
| Pumps for liquids||1,911|
| Tools for use in the hand or in machine||1,440|
| Transmis. shafts||1,368|
| Other power generating machinery & parts, n.e.s.||1,321|
We can have ten Embassies Covered by one Important Embassy
Dear Anthony, we all wish Zambia well and would certainly want it to develop. Your style is to inflate the importance of the steps that the Government is undertaking to achieve that and then shower plenty of praises. Ours is different. We prefer to come out vigorously truthful and with details. You see, the devil likes hiding in the details. All this information that we produce is meant to help Government although we wonder whether leaders even read it or once they do, whether they take it seriously. But, Anthony, the point is, we ought to be a little more serious in the way we do things. Your Embassies must become more competitive and serious. There is a lot of limited foreign exchange going their leaving many innocent and serious Zambians behind hungry. That is why they must be more accountable and results fashioned. It is even better to start thinking of divesting some which are non-productive. For example, Sweden itself could be covered by the Embassy in Germany. All Embassies in the South could also be covered by the Embassy in South Africa. In the East, by the Embassy in Kenya. In the end, we could have at least ten Embassies being covered by one big one. This would save a lot of money and reduce on borrowing from IMF.