Provincial expos: Marketing tool for Zambia


ATTRACTING foreign direct investment through business incentives to enhance competitiveness and increase economic development are essential aims and objectives of every government, with no exception of the Zambian government. The government has thus; put measures such as economic diversification, to create a business environment that promotes value addition by way of having a manufacturing type of economy.

Different initiatives are in place to help in this direction such as provincial expos like the Luapula Expo and Investment Conference in 2017. The event showcased the range of products produced by small and medium scale industries from all different regions. It was also used to address several shortcomings or constraints that had been identified by local entrepreneurs and exhibited products that fulfilled the criteria of good quality, packaging, branding, labelling and production technology.

Expos are an excellent response to the demands of attracting significant foreign direct investments (FDI). No investor willingly comes to you if you are not showing them what you are offering them in return for their investments.

The Zambian government should re-strategise and package investment information in a single window format so that during expos, institutions such as the 
1. Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), 
2. Patents and Company Registration Agency (PACRA), 
3. Zambia Development Agency (ZRA), 
4. Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI) 

are all under one umbrella giving vital information and incentives to the potential local and foreign investors.

Having inherited an economy with so many inequalities and lack of production capacity after independence, little change took place in the last four decades. However, there has been an acceleration of policy measures and reforms to create an enabling environment for foreign direct investments would help in value-addition to its economy, through the creation of new jobs and increase in revenue earnings for the government.

The country has an abundance of natural resources that need utilisation. To fully exploit these resources, a lot of capital is required and FDI is a good source for this capital. Zambia needs to export value added natural resources globally and market manufactured goods that will bring higher prices and also create more jobs, directly and indirectly. Zambia has also to simultaneously address challenges that are still faced by the country’s economy, such as socio-economic inequalities, poverty and unemployment, which can restrict growth and development. The pronouncement to have expos in all provinces will undoubtedly yield the best results for Zambia.

The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, being the responsible ministry for the development and expansion of the country’s trade and industrial areas, must importantly focus on economic growth, employment and the country’s ability to compete in the regional and international markets. Zambia should also continue strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations with other countries and with regional and international organisations. This should be supplemented by the work of the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), a body responsible for promoting foreign direct investment.

Whilst conducting all initiatives aimed at increased FDIs, creating a proper perception of the country should be a critical task for all stakeholders. A positive image of the country will work best in the face of economic diplomacy, as the President (Chief Diplomat) takes the comprehensive promotion of the country. This is achieved through synchronisation of political and economic activities and promotion of culture.

Promotional activities such as expos and trade shows help to provide potential investors with information and raise their awareness; create an attractive image of the State as an investment location, and through providing services to prospective investors by being fully aware of the priority sectors of interest to investors and the specific investment opportunities that could be made available to them.

Increased foreign direct investment inflows will drive economic growth and prosperity through job creation and thus, reduce unemployment. There is also technology transfer through initiatives such as joint ventures and other collaborative arrangements with local companies.

Zambia has become an attractive destination for foreign direct investments (FDI) because of the country’s liberal economic policy regime including legal and regulatory mechanisms that have been put in place since independence. According to the Bank of Zambia, the country’s net foreign direct investment inflows significantly improved in 2017, rising to US $1,179.6 million from US$486.1 million in 2016. The factors for investing in Zambia remain economic growth prospects and market potential, followed by political stability. Furthermore, the ease of doing business and good governance were also ranked positively as factors for investing in our economy.

Among other policy measures, the implementation of the Economic Stabilisation and Growth Programme – Zambia Plus (ESGP) in line with the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP 2017- 2021) focusing on an integrated multi-sectoral development approach of “accelerating the development efforts towards Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind” in place, results will surely come sooner than later.

It is important that all stakeholders take a keen interest in provincial expos to market Zambia in the best ways possible and see to it that investments are actualised beyond pledges. Global demand for investments has hit its highest peak and it is only right that Zambia gets the best out of win-win development partnerships.

The author is a Master of International Relations and Development student at Mulungushi University. 



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