IT seems the trips being undertaken by President Hakainde Hichilema are bearing unimaginable results as evident by the many deals scored with the farmers now put under pressure not only to satisfy the local market but outside as well.
The latest pronouncement that Zambia will soon start growing food for export to Rwanda and eSwatini should be a great challenge to the Zambian farmers to grow enough for the local market and export outside.
This has been the cry of the farmers who are still enjoying government ban on imports of potatoes and onions with the Zambian farmer empowered to grow enough and ensure they met the markets created by the government not only in the region but Africa and the world at large.
Promoting intra-Africa trade is the way to go and not a situation where Zambia was more a dumping ground of agricultural products which our own farmers could easily grow and satisfy the market.
Although intra-African trade is not a panacea for development, it is quite important. It can help the continent’s industries become more competitive by creating economies of scale and weeding out producers that are less productive in the marketplace.
It can establish and at the same time strengthen product value chains and facilitate the transfer of technology and knowledge via spill-over effects.
Furthermore, intra-Africa trade can help incentivize and spur infrastructure development and attract foreign direct investment. It is for these reasons that President Hichilema wants Zambia not to lag behind because expanding intra-African trade is a key to accelerating economic growth.
This type of trade will greatly help countries like Zambia which are landlocked and face tremendous challenges trading internationally.
Zambia will host the African Union mid-year coordinating meeting in Lusaka which should be made use of to build synergies that would accelerate intra-continent trade especially that reports show that Africa’s current internal trade is low—making up only about 10 per cent of its total trade.
This is because most of its exports go to the world’s advanced economies and most of its imports come from those same advanced economies.
It is an undeniable fact that trade between African countries has the greatest potential for building sustainable economic development and integration.
With Zambia set to benefit from the 150 billion Euros approved by the European Union (EU) to support infrastructure development in African states, this would go a long way towards ensuring that transportation and communication infrastructure is boosted.
The transport sector continues to remain important especially in the movements of goods which our farmers can use to transport their goods to neighbouring countries.
Zambia, as a land-linked country, needs to have its infrastructure upgraded to meet the ever growing demand because an effective transport infrastructure acts as catalyst to social and economic growth of any country.
There is need to have a good network system as a landlocked country as that helps to interlink Zambia with her neighbours in the movements of goods from and into the country.
And the President’s advice should be heeded on the need to rebuild the country’s infrastructure which in turn would help in creating employment for the local people and help in alleviation of poverty.
It is evident that foreign trips being undertaken by the President are important to create global linkages focusing on trade and investment to rebuild the economy and create jobs.
The democratic space has now been opened and the onus is on the Zambians to take advantage and make use of the markets that have been opened up by Zambia’s chief marketing officer to export various goods and services as this would in-turn bring the much longed for foreign exchange.