By Edward Chisanga
Welcome to Zambia King Mswati of Eswatini. As our President hosts your royal highness, and bids goodbye to you, I implore you to share with him your success story of exporting more manufactured goods to the world than Zambia does and more than you export primary commodities while Zambia exports more primary commodities than manufactured goods.
You obviously came for a different mission equally important, but I overhead you talk about the need for your country and Zambia to expand the trade partnership. While statistics show that between the two of your countries, you may not engage in significant trade, given your limited product portfolio and diversification, you can certainly share some lessons of your success.
Zambia’s new leadership is overly ambitious to create export value addition as soon as yesterday. They are still learning how to grapple with such a mammoth task which, only our first Head of State, late President Kaunda began but went not far due to the nationalization program and other factors. I notice from statistics that among fifty-five African countries, your country ranks number ten in top African countries’ exporters of manufactured goods to the world shown in Table 1 below with Zambia behind. For your small country, this is very good news and congratulations.
Table 1: Africa’s top global exporters of manufactured goods in US$ Billions
The story of Zambia’s repeated message of value addition by our current leadership is explained by use of statistics shown in Figure 1 below, which shows Eswatini’s exports of manufactured goods to the world exceeding those of primary commodities in its total. And the difference between the absolute value of exports of manufactured goods and primary commodities is wide, almost half, or double, depending on what you are looking at. I mean, annual value of manufactured goods from 2011 to 2021 is about twofold that of primary commodities or that of primary commodities is half that of manufactured goods.
I’m alert to the fact that in absolute values, numbers of US$1.4 billion exports of manufactured goods are basically nothing to write home about given their lowness. But the mindset to put manufacturing exports on top of primary commodities, which Zambia has not done for many years is the breakthrough that King Mswati must not only celebrate but share with his counterpart, President Hichilema. I hope this was discussed during your stay in our lovely country.
On the other hand, Zambia’s global exports of primary commodities in total shown in Figure 2 below is about eightfold that of manufactured goods. In the past, Zambian leaders bragged more value addition than they created. They totally ignored action. This data provides important lessons for the new leadership. If they also speak more than they do, they will join the history books of lying African leaders. But statistics will find them. Former President Lungu tried to hide in the public speeches of building roads, bridges, and clinics. But statistics showed his failure to grow the economy and growing poverty.
Surely, Zambia can learn something from Eswatini.