AS we indicated on November 9, 2017, it always comes down to the question of what comes first, the egg or the hen!
Truly, what comes first between the need to buy locally-produced goods and services on one hand and the need for the local producers to offer quality goods and services on the other?
What comes first between the need to consume local products on one hand and the need for delivery of quality goods and services by the local producers on the other?
Indeed, what should come first when one talks about the “Buy Zambia Campaign” or the Proudly Zambian, for instance?
Is it the mere promotion of consumption of local products (regardless of their quality), on one hand or the need to promote local production of quality products first on the other?
But production of quality goods and services needs the strengthening of the capacity for the local producers.
The answers to these cyclical and daunting questions will determine the success or failure of any such endeavour when it comes to the creation of the market for the local producers among the local consumers.
Therefore, as Zambia embarks on the implementation of the Proudly Zambian crusade, the need to balance between these factors becomes of great essence.
We, therefore, join the Government in challenging local producers of goods and services to be innovative and keep on improving production to encourage local consumption for consumers and ensure value for money.
As Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said yesterday that producers should strive to produce quality goods and services.
They should improve the packaging methods and guarantee quality to consumers.
The Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) to kick start the implementation of the Proudly Zambian campaign aimed at bolstering the quality and perception of Zambian products and services.
While recognising the need for consumers countrywide to change their mindset and begin to think local first when purchasing goods and services, we feel that the manufacturers should also up their game.
The campaign is meant to promote the production and consumption of locally produced products and services which will contribute to wealth and employment creation and subsequent poverty reduction in the country.
We also note that the campaign will also stimulate demand for locally-produced products and act as a game changer in terms of perception towards quality for locally produced products and services.
The campaign represents collective efforts and resolve by the Government and the private sector to accelerate progress in increasing consumption of locally produced products to ensure economic growth.
The local producers have, however, a duty to ensure that they come up with products which can compete favourably with imported goods.
The local consumers should not be forced to use local products just because they are locally produced but because they are of quality but reasonably priced to ensure affordability by the majority of the local consumers.
On its part, the Government should continue implementing economic policies which are aimed at reducing the cost of doing business because that has a huge bearing on the quality and prices of the locally produced goods.
It should address the cost of the production components which account for the relatively higher prices of the local products to ensure competitiveness.
With reduced cost of doing business in the country, the cost of production for local products will be reduced and this will make it possible for the manufacturers to come up with quality products.
The benefits of ensuring the consumption of local products are many and include creation of jobs locally, growth of the local economy and reduction in the loss of foreign exchange.