WORLD over, several African countries have been pursuing sector-driven industrial economic growth.
Ethiopia, for example, has identified agriculture and therefore pursued the Agriculture Led Industrial development.
Indeed, Ethiopia by 2018 had been growing its economy by 12 per cent per annum compared to an economy like Zambia, which has been growing by a meagre average rate of three to four percent respectively.
Thanks to Ethiopia’s policies and its ability to follow through them. This has seen the country develop its electricity sector to support its industry base with one of the lowest cost rates in the world.
This has further fostered its airline, horticulture, and cotton producing and apparel as well as the fashion industry to competitive global levels.
What’s been Ethiopia’s secret?
Hong Kong based Epic Group chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Rahjan Mahtani says “The one thing unique in Ethiopia is that there’s never been such an organised roadmap dedicated to apparel and textile, not in any country in the world”
It’s amazing that Ethiopia built the 1.4 million square meters apparel factory facility in Hawasa built in a record time of nine months.
On the other hand, Zambia is one of the countries that is endowed with more than one sector that could foster national economic growth.
These include; agriculture, mining and tourism.
As regards the tourism sector, Zambia is particularly endowed with outstanding natural endowments of tourist attractions such as the Victoria Falls and existence of wildlife including animals such as elephants and rare species of birds.
However, the sector’s tourism contribution in terms of revenue and real gross domestic product (GDP) is still far less than those of comparable economies.
According to the United Nations Conference On Trade And Development (UNCTAD) economic development report on tourism for the year 2017, country’s like Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principle and South Sudan grew by 17 per cent, 15 per cent, 14 per cent, 21 per cent per and 16 per cent, were among the countries where tourism’s contribution to GDP grew fastest in 2011–2014, but from a relatively low base.
Think of it, these countries do not have natural tourist scenery like the Victoria falls or many game parks the way Zambia has, and yet as the UNCTAD 2017 report puts it, from their relatively low base, they have developed their sector to earn more revenue than country’s like Zambia that have a relatively bigger base.
If Zambia has to leverage a tourism sector-led economic growth, what should the policy makers and economic managers do?
Remarkably, well-developed infrastructure is critical to economic diversification and structural transformation.
Infrastructure may be harnessed to support the development of tourism for transformative and inclusive growth and ultimately create linkages that would contribute to greater economic growth.
The availability and quality of basic physical infrastructure, including well-developed airports, ports, road and railway networks, and access to supportive infrastructure such as sanitation, water and electricity supplies and telecommunications, which facilitate foundational services for other productive sectors, are critical to the growth and competitiveness of tourism.
Countries with the highest number of tourist arrivals, such as Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, have the most affordable internet rates and extensive connectivity, as well as higher numbers of fixed broadband users and automated teller machines, exceeding the average of the sub-region.
In addition to limited internet connectivity, the high cost of internet services, which exceeds the global average and the cost in other sub regions, impedes the competitiveness of tourism.
In my recent interaction with World wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Country Director Nachilala Nkombo, I learnt that Zambia still has a lot of basic work to do to develop its tourism sector.
Think of it, in my recent visit to the Kafue National Park on the Mumbwa Itezhi tezhi route, I could visibly see logs of trees that have been cut just by the entrance of the National park.
According to Ms Nkombo, uncontrolled fires occur within protected game parks.
Further the increased incidences of people encroaching national parks and other wild life areas and the carrying out of industrial projects within wildlife protected areas reduces space for habitat.
Indeed, wildlife can only thrive and survive in healthy forests!
There has been a raging controversy over the Government of Zambia’s decision to approve large scale copper mining license in the Lower Zambezi National Park to Mwembeshi Resources Ltd (MRL), a subsidiary of an Austrian listed company, Zambezi Resources Ltd (ZRL).
Imagine, the proposed mine will be located right in the middle of the National Park.
That’s enough to send mixed feelings about the country’s resolve to foster a tourism – led economic growth, isn’t it?
This project will therefore bisect the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA).
Further, this mining project is clearly a threat to the habitat and also to the realisation of the full potential of the area’s tourism.
Ms. Nkombo further notes that Zambia’s tourism is comparatively not so well packaged, documented and marketed.
She further notes that the country has inadequate support of accommodation, transport and all-year-round road infrastructure.
Therefore, some areas don’t have all year round accessible tourism.
Some parts of Luangwa are not passable in rainy season.
The latest case in point is the recent washing away of the bridge on the Luangwa bridge in Lundazi.
“Further, there are various elements of tourism; natural heritage, wildlife, bird life, fishing, cultural and historical tourism and water sports, we are not maximizing as they are underdeveloped” Ms.Nkombo said.
These factors makes Zambia only earn about one-sixth of revenue that countries like Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ruanda make out of their tourism sectors.
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The author is the Managing Consultant at G. N Grant Business Consultant, a Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA), a Master of Business Administration (MBA) holder, with a Specialism in Strategic Planning, and a candidate for the Herriot Watt University (Scotland) Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)