Copperbelt Provincial Permanent Secretary Augustine Kasongo has observed that there is a need to formulate policies that can effectively support the local manufacturing industry.
Mr. Kasongo said his office was aware that local manufacturers are grappling with the challenge of scarcity business locally as industries such as mines prefer imported products.
He also cited lack of financial support and inadequate marketing as other challenges affecting local producers.
Speaking during the Local Content Conference and Expo organised by the Zambia Association of Manufacturers at Protea Hotel in Ndola, Mr. Kasongo said locals were not supporting products being manufactured in the country.
He said the manufacturing industry was sad that the mining sector was importing goods that are also being produced locally.
Copperbelt Provincial Permanent Secretary further challenged local manufacturers to widely market their products.
I wish to confess that our Zambian manufacturers are given support that they require they are equal to the task. I have seen the items they have exhibited. Some manufacturers are even exporting their products. The trend that we have is that most of the products have been certified to be used in the mines and in most institutions like the Zambia Police, Zambia Army but the complaint manufacturers have is that we are not giving them support as Zambians. We are not buying their local products. We are busy importing products that they are able to manufacture here in Zambia. If few of them are exporting to Zimbabwe and Congo but the Zambians especially the mining sector is not giving manufacturers the support that is needed. So we need to ensure that we do some deliberate policy of ensuring that we support our Zambian businesses because if supported it means we are creating employment for our people,” Mr. Kasongo said.
He added that high lending interest rates are equally hindering the growth of local businesses.
Mr. Kasongo said the support of the local businesses was key to job creation which is part of the UPND Government agenda.
“Production of goods and services will go up then there will be a need to employ some more people but if we continue importing it means we are denying the growth of our Zambian businesses and of course one of the challenges that have come out very prominently is that they require financing. Affordable financing because you know they are unable to access financing the interest rates are very high. If there could be a way that this aspect of funding is looked at to give capacity to Zambian businesses to grow. Once they grow we will create more employment for our people and that is the agenda of the new dawn government,” Mr. Kasongo said.
Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) President Ashu Sagar asked the government to ensure that local products are supported, especially by the mines.
The mining industry in Zambia consumes a significant amount of manufactured products however different studies have shown that 90 % of manufactured products consumed by the local mining companies are imported. The need to strengthen the linkages between the manufacturing sector and the mining sector in Zambia cannot be over emphasised,” Mr. Sagar stated.