As part of the state visit to India by the Republican President, Edgar C Lungu, the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) participated in the Indo-Zambia Business Forum held in New Delhi, India, on 21 August 2019.
The Forum was attended by policymakers, academicians and private sector entrepreneurs from both countries, including over 200 businesspersons from all major sectors of the Indian economy and representatives of Zambian private sector, clustered around the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI).
The Forum was an opportunity for business persons to network, compare notes and clinch deals.
The ZDA Acting Director General, Mr Matongo Matamwandi, presented Zambia’s investment blueprint, in a paper entitled Investment Climate and Opportunities in Zambia”, in line with the Agency’s statutory mandate to Promote Investment and Business Facilitation in Zambia.
Mr Matamwandi appraised the potential investors on the strengths of Zambia as a destination for safe, sustainable and profitable investment due to a stable socio-economic system, solid macroeconomic fundamentals, attractive investment incentives, legal protection of private property, peaceful and friendly people, abundant natural resources and access to a large domestic and regional market – SADC and COMESA, representing over 450 people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over USD560 billion.
As regards the business environment, the Director General observed that Zambia’s sustained efforts to reform towards a fully-private sector driven economy had yielded results and recognition, including impressive GDP growth of over 4.5% in 2018 against the average in COMESA of 3.8%, while on Ease of Doing Business, Zambia is ranked 5th in SADC and 6th in Sub-Saharan Africa, according the World Bank report of 2018.
In terms of investments between the two countries, Mr Matamwandi noted that that India was one of the oldest and biggest trading partners, as evidenced by annual Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from India into Zambia amounting to over USD118 million and USD90 million for 2017 and 2018 respectively. As relates trade, Zambia exported over USD170 million (minerals and skin hides) while imports were in excess of USD245 million (medicaments, machinery and chemicals), according to 2017 official data.
As regards investment opportunities, Mr Matamwandi emphasized that Zambia had prioritized five sectors of the economy – Agriculture, Energy, Infrastructure, Manufacturing and Tourism – in line with the country’s growth strategy.
In the area of agriculture, Zambia’s attraction as a premier investment destination is incentivized by the abundance of land (75 million hectares) of which 58%, or 42 million hectares is arable land, but only 14% is currently being utilized; and vast sources of water amounting to irrigation potential of up to 2.7 million hectares, but only 6% is currently being utilized.
Other opportunities were present in the areas of livestock, aquaculture, forestry and the Farming Blocks (100,000 hectares) that Government has set up in all the ten Provinces of Zambia.
In the area of energy, demand for electricity was close to 2000MW and for petroleum fuels was other 53 million litres per month but problems exist due to constrained electricity generation (weather affecting hydrogenation) and inadequate refining capacity of petroleum.
Mr Matamwandi emphasized that there were plenty of opportunities in investing in energy due to availability of demand, potential for thermal power due to availability of coal and biomass, potential for solar energy due to abundant sunlight (3,000 sunshine hours per year), potential for biofuels due to abundant land to grow raw materials, and potential for geothermal energy.
As regards tourism, the country was blessed with wild animals, natural sites and water bodies in all the Provinces. However, conference and hotel accommodation were inadequate.
Opportunities for investment are plenty in national parks and lakes where lodges are required to boost bed-space and the Northern Tourism Circuit, which has undeveloped infrastructure. The current bed-space is about 22,000, against demand of 30,000-40,000.
As regards infrastructure, the Government has embarked on an aggressive infrastructure project. However, the deficit is too huge and hence the encouraging of private sector to participate in Private Partnership Projects (PPP).
Here investment potential is huge in many areas, including: Grain and fresh foods storage facilities; transport to link to existing railway and inland ports; private hospitals and universities in view of increased demand for specialist healthcare and tertiary training; housing and office space accommodation; hotels and convention centres. In terms of real estates, the housing deficit is currently estimated at 1.3 million units, and is projected to grow to 3 million by 2030.
In the area of manufacturing, the Government has identified this sector as the engine for industrialization and the creation of decent jobs across the value chain.
Investment opportunities exist in agro-processing, in line with the Farm Block concept: the Steel Industrial Park in Kafue; and the Industrial Parks and Multi Facility Economic Zones (MFEIZ) in all Provinces.
The Business Forum was a success as it accorded Zambian businesspersons to network with their Indian counterparts, but also for Zambia (through ZDA) to showcase the country as an investment destination.
ZDA looks forward to follow up the pledges and ensure that some translate into tangible investment in due course. ZDA is a specialized agency, within the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, operating as a body charged with Promoting Investment and Business Facilitation on behalf of the Zambian Government.
It was created by the ZDA Act No. 11 of 2006 and commenced operation in 2007 following the merger of five agencies – Zambia Privatization Agency (ZPA), Export Board of Zambia, Zambia Investment Centre (ZIC), Zambia Export Processing Zones and Small Enterprises Development Board.