What are your most innovative services in support of new companies coming to Zambia?
The most recent and effective platform we have created is the one-stop-shop concept. In the past, businesspeople and investors coming to Zambia for the first time had to deal with a number of institutions and organizations to register their companies, and obtain certificates and licenses. In order to reduce the cost of doing business, and to make it easier, our one-stop shop concept facilitates such processes. We have one in Lusaka and one in Livingstone. Eventually our plan is to have one in each province of Zambia.
Which sectors have the greatest growth potential?
I would definitely highlight agriculture. If you consider our climate, the quality of our soil, the volume of rainfall, and the amount of sunshine, the entire country could become the breadbasket of the continent. The Zambian government has developed a farm blocks program in each of the 10 provinces of Zambia. These will be demarcated with 100,000 ha of land available for investment. We have started the process of marketing the farm blocks, and are in the process of identifying a partner for our farm block in the north. We put out a global tender and the response was quite overwhelming. Today we have shortlisted four possible joint venture partners. We will be completing the process, and hopefully signing with a partner, by the end of September. We want to see major agricultural development. The same applies to the other nine provinces. We have set up many farm blocks and there is a lot of interest at the moment. One company intends to establish a sugar plantation on a large scale, while another is to focus on producing biofuels from cassava, working with small-scale farmers. In terms of mining, the northwestern province is the new Copperbelt.
Which countries have shown the greatest interest in Zambia?
The traditional investors in the mining sector have been the UK, Canada, Australia, and recently South Africa. Most of these companies now are increasing their capability in terms of reequipping old mines, while many greenfield mines are also emerging. In terms of Europe, the notable investors are from Germany and France. In this country we have a major French producer of cement in Lafarge. Poland has also been a new and keen entrant into our country, interested in a number of sectors. Going further east, Japan for many years has been trading in Zambia. Every other vehicle you see is Japanese. Furthermore, India has continued to be a sustainable investor, as has Singapore. In December 2014 we signed an MoU with the Singapore Investment Center to promote new investments in our economy. We have also recently received strong overtures from the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, and China, too, is a growing investor. Its investments are broad-based, across agriculture, infrastructure, agro-processing, manufacturing, and others. Turkey has recently come on-stream with strong interest in Zambia. We have enjoyed complete political stability over the past 51 years having seen six democratically elected presidents, boosting investor confidence. And over the past decade GDP growth has averaged at 6.3%, in 2014 approaching 7%.
Which large-scale projects is ZDA supporting?
The farm block program is set to become a major development, and will be replicated nationwide. Also, I should mention the multi-facility economic zones that are pulling in notable new investment. Zambian Breweries has established a $32 million malting plant there. This is significant because in the past, Zambian breweries were not producing malt locally. They would get the barley and the farmers would sell the barley to Zambian breweries, but then they would export that to Zimbabwe where they had a malting plant, then reimport it. We were creating jobs in Zimbabwe and losing value because we exported for reimporting. By the end of this year, the new plant will be ready. In Lusaka south, we also have a major pharmaceutical plant, which is going to be producing medical drugs, which we haven't done before. In terms of manufacturing, we can see some major developments taking place. Zambia Sugar came to us recently and we gave them a license. They are investing another $120 million to increase their production capacity at the new refinery. We also have a Chinese-Zambian joint venture keen on the cement sector with a $600 million plant.
What are your expectations for the year ahead?
We need to strengthen our investments platform. Currently, we are in the process of reviewing the ZDA act and we are doing so in consultation with all stakeholders, particularly the private sector. The main focus of the review is to assess how to render Zambia an even more attractive investment destination, and, secondly, to empower Zambians. We have looked at many instruments that will enable us to empower Zambians. This alone will be a major investment in the future of the Zambian economy. Coupled with the peace and stability we continue to enjoy, the democratic institutions we have in place, and the strong annual growth rates we enjoy, this country is positioned for great performance.