MORE effort should be made to prepare the economy for Zambia’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which has been in place since January this year.
There is need to come up with an export-driven strategy that will encourage the manufacturing sector to participate effectively in the yearning continental market.
Being a land-linked market, Zambia can benefit effectively from the expanded marketplace under the AfCFTA if producers of goods and services in the economy grabbed the opportunity by upping production.
Issues to do with lack of quality branding and packaging of locally-produced goods should be resolved through a multi-sectoral approach.
The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) should as a matter of urgency work with the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) to devise strategies that will boost manufacturing of export-oriented goods.
As more countries join the one Africa market, it is important that stakeholders use the country’s raw material potential and upscale the manufacturing sector ready to participate in the AfCFTA.
Should we fail to strategically grab this opportunity of export tariff liberalisation; the country will be a dumping ground for substandard subsided goods that will deteriorate the economy in the medium to long term.
The country should look at its comparative advantage at regional and continental levels so as to tap into the huge potential of this continentally- liberalised market.
ZDA should ensure that necessary investments in agro processing as it works on developing an export strategy that will ensure local companies enhance their exports into the continental market are attracted.
With the country producing a record 411,115 tonnes of soya beans in the 2020/2021 farming season compared to 296,686 tonnes in the previous season translating into a 67-per cent increase, soya bean processing plants can earn the country more.
Yesterday, ZDA director – exports and development Albert Halwampa said the premium investment promoter has come up with the strategy to drive the country’s exports into the AfCFTA markets which is encouraging.
We note that the key objectives of the strategy is to increase and promote the value of Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) of which are heightened in the AfCFTA and Zambia’s nine neighbouring markets.
We agree with Mr Hamwampa on his observation that export development is key in developing the value chain and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) while taking them into markets.
But that can only be achieved if SMEs have necessary capacity to produce competitive goods that can satisfy the expanded market while broadening access to financing for this important segment.
It is heartening, though, to note that ZDA is currently training staff who have been tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the implementation of the strategy is successful.
An aggressive approach towards boosting the NTEs so as to benefit effectively from the AfCFTA market is the best way to go.