The World Bank Group has underscored the importance of sustainable private sector development in strengthening small and medium enterprises to promote economic growth.
Executive Director for World Bank Group, Africa Group in the Office of the Executive Director, Floribert Ngaruko, said this is because the private sector helps to reduce unemployment levels, thus supporting development.
Dr Ngaruko said when he paid a courtesy call on the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) president in Lusaka, that there is need to find ways of building capacity within the private sector as it rolls out its projects in Zambia.
He noted that there is need to interact with the private sector given the role it plays in the development of the country, especially in the areas of employment.
He pointed out that the private sector is a prerequisite to making the economy more vibrant.
Dr Ngaruko has meanwhile commended ZACCI for being the focal point on removing non-tariff barriers and reducing the cost of doing business for many Zambians.
He described ZACCI as an essential aspect of development.
And Dr Ngaruko announced that the World Bank has undertaken an initiative to increase a footprint in client countries in terms of building capacity in order for regional country offices to serve customers better.
He took note of the private sector’s views on how the World Bank Group can increase support to private sector development in Zambia.
“We note the need for a catalytic support to the sustainability of your programs and that you consider us the centre for the development of the private sector in Zambia,” he stated.
And in the area of access to finance, Dr Ngaruko said the World Bank is keen to identify the sectors that are mostly affected with lack of finances and also the current interest rates, which he said is a diagnostic approach to further investment for the private sector.
Meanwhile, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) President, Chabuka Kawesha, asked the World Bank to use its level of influence in ensuring that Zambia is on course to resolve both the external and internal debt, through table engagements with the parties involved.
Dr Kawesha said dealing with the debt bottleneck will put the private sector on a different trajectory in terms of complementing the government agenda of economic development.
He said Zambia should become a net exporter of various goods and service such as revamping the textile industry, agro processing, and value addition without a bigger debt hanging on the country.
He is however hopeful that a strong private sector should be able to effectively participate in the development and deployment of various projects in Zambia.
“We would like to see your involvement in addressing the issues of guarantees because the investors that are coming here, they ask for guarantees,” Dr Kawesha stated.
He praised the World Bank for acknowledging ZACCI’s efforts in assisting the growth of small and medium scale entrepreneurs.
Dr Kawesha further noted that in strengthening the SMEs base to the next level as industry players, there is a need to have key catalysts in place that will ensure there is sustainability for operations.
He also said Zambia requires a rapid solution to ensuring that the road infrastructure receives the attention it deserves for smooth movement of goods and services.
The ZACCI president said there is need for a reliable, sufficient and available power energy that will open up opportunities for the country’s economic growth.