COME GIVE US A HAND

Zambia 2015 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Kayula Siame, National Coordinator of Private Sector Development Industrialization and Job Creation at the Cabinet Office, on the advantages of investing in Zambia and job creation projects.

Kayula Siame

What are the comparative advantages of Zambia over neighboring countries, and why should an investor enter the market?

Zambia has many natural resources as well as arable land, which have the potential to support farm processing industries in addition to creating jobs. In terms of agriculture, there is sufficient water. We have 30% of southern Africa's water resources, which adds to the potential for investors to find opportunities in agriculture in Zambia. In tourism, in addition to the Victoria Falls, the country has 34 game management areas. In terms of our business and regulatory framework, Zambia may be one of few countries with a dedicated unit placed at a high level in its cabinet office looking at business issues and regulatory frameworks in support of private-sector development. Since 2005, we have moved through different phases to ensure that the business environment becomes more competitive and that regulatory frameworks become increasingly business friendly.

What role can public-private partnerships (PPPs) play in developing Zambia's economy?

PPPs play a role of supporting the government implement its own infrastructure or service projects. They are not meant as a substitute for government funding but are there to provide value for money and bring efficiency into the delivery of government services. In the industrialization and job creation strategy about 45% of the funding is expected to be through the PPP mode. In 2015, we intend to facilitate capacity building within government ministries and agencies to equip them with requisite skills and knowledge to handle and manage.

Which key projects will generate the most employment over the next two years?

There are four sectors, namely construction, tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture, that have been identified as key for growth and job creation some of the jobs created are expected to be temporary such as in the construction sector but the majority that are being envisaged are the formal jobs. In all, we expect the jobs created to move people from poverty to a better level of livelihood. Agriculture offers the greatest potential for jobs as a number of jobs are created along the entire value chain.

One issue that Zambia faces is the number of people working in the informal sector. What are your strategies to move these people into the formal sector?

People stay in the informal sector because they do not see the benefits of moving out. In this regard, we need to show people the benefits accrued to them when they become formal. Some of the ways in which we have tackled this is making it easier and more affordable for individuals to start a business, which in turn provides them with opportunities to access to finance, access to business development services, and technical assistance.

What strategy should be followed to empower more women to become entrepreneurs?

First investing in the education of women at all levels, primary, secondary, and tertiary. A highly educated and skilled women workforce will contribute to competitiveness in attracting FDI in industries with higher paying jobs that demand skilled labor. This investment also includes investing in the building of confidence of girls and women to believe in themselves. Secondly, promoting entrepreneurship through more targeted female programs that also provide more role models of successful woman entrepreneurs, mentoring programs and lastly also changing mindset of women to believe in themselves and show successful woman such as our Vice President as examples.

How can the Cabinet Office ensure that growth is sustainable and inclusive in all stratas of society, especially in rural areas?

Through the implementation of public and private sector reforms that make growth more inclusive such as empowerment of the youth with education and skills, aligning skills to job requirements, and creating avenues in rural areas for skilled youth employment. Ensuring that information about available programs and products or services are widely disseminated through various platforms and channels.

What role does FDI play in Zambia versus local investment?

FDI is important as a source of capital. However, FDI should not be a substitute for local investment. When Zambia liberalized its economy it did not have the capacity to mobilize local resources to support economic growth, and, therefore, FDI was viewed as a source of capital. The rationale behind this was to develop the economy by utilizing foreign capital, making it necessary but insufficient for economic growth. Long-term local investment is critical, which is why private sector development reforms are undertaken in Zambia so that the capacity of local businesses is increased to participate in the growth of the economy and to provide the requisite local investment for the economy.

How many jobs seem set to be created by 2016?

Our target is to create one million jobs by then, one-third or possibly half of which should have materialized by end-2015. Yet while we remain optimistic, this all depends upon the government and various stakeholders working toward the same goal with maximum effort and within a strong coordination framework.