Enhance Public-Private Partnerships

But the last few years have witnessed a remarkable shift from over-dependence on copper because the Government has made great efforts to develop value chain clusters that will help to increase Zambia’s Non-Traditional Export (NTEs) earnings.

A number of measures undertaken by the Government aimed at promoting growth in the export sector have started bearing fruit because of the conducive investment environment it has put in place.

For example, latest figures show that Zambia’s export revenue from NTEs grew significantly from about US287 million in 1998 to $3.5 billion in 2013.

Boosting NTEs will help to stabilise the country’s Kwacha which many times becomes vulnerable to the strength of other international convertible currencies such as the American dolllar.

The Government’s intentions to create industrial clusters in all the country’s provincial centres is one of the avenues aimed at encouraging value-addition and increasing foreign exchange earnings through NTEs.

While these projects will have long-term benefits for the Zambian economy and the citizenry in general, the Government cannot do this alone without participation of the private sector.

It is important for the private sector to work closely with the Government to expand productive capacities to seize numerous opportunities available.

There is need to enhance the Public Private Partnership (PPP), which is among the main drivers of the country’s economic development.

It is in this light that we support the recent commissioning of the $10 million chicken processing plant in Siavonga District of Southern Province which will enhance the value chain cluster concept.

Southern Chickens, which was initially designed to process 4,000 chickens, currently has an installed capacity of 2,000 birds per hour and this is encouraging for the local meat processing industry.

The plant has so far created 160 jobs for the locals and more are on the way as the project expands.

The plant, owned by prominent lawyer John Sangwa, who is also chairperson of Mathaniah Investments Limited, is one of those economic projects that will help to enhance the Government’s efforts in developing value chain clusters around the country.

As Mr Sangwa has rightly observed, there is urgent need to look into the future with a view to creating g value chain clusters that will contribute significantly to the development of the Zambian economy and help it move away from the copper dependency syndrome.

There is also need for the Government, which has already created an enabling environment for investments, to work out some incentives for growers in this industry to help them contain stiff competition from imports, most of which are a health hazard.

Economic projects such as the one that Southern Chickens has come up with need to be supported by all stakeholders and with value addition, Zambia could become a major exporter of processed chickens in the region and improve the country’s NTE earnings.

This will also improve the sector’s contributions to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) whose growth is around seven per cent per annum.

The benefits are of course numerous as these projects will create massive employment opportunities for Zambians at all levels, improve their living standards and help to reduce high poverty levels, especially in rural areas.

Such projects are economic assets that will spur this country’s prospects to higher heights and enable the Government realise its goals.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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