VISITING any new country gives me or any other writer an opportunity to learn new things about such a country.
One of the areas I am always interested in upon arrival in another country is the economy, in terms of actual wealth or poverty status of the people vis-à-vis the national economy.
Before visiting India about a fortnight ago, I had read and heard a lot of things about this biggest democracy and seemingly the more I learnt the more I wanted to learn more.
Lessons abound in various fields like governance, the economy, agriculture, health, education, technology, manufacturing, small scale businesses, tourism and of course in lifestyle.
God willing and time permitting, I may have a bite at most of these areas but today I want to begin by focusing my attention on the economy and the population as well as how African countries, starting from Zambia can benefit from that.
Indeed, one important factor I always associate with the national economy is the country’s population because there is some relationship.
In terms of population, India is the most populous country in the world, with an estimated population of about 1.428 billion people or 17.8 per cent of the total world population.
It surpassed the long-time world’s most populated country, China, last year.
According to the Export- Import Bank (EXIMBANK) of India, India is the world’s fifth largest economy based on nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2022 and accounted for 3.4 per cent of the global GDP for the same year.
India’s nominal GDP is projected to reach US$ 5.4 trillion by 2027 and attain the third largest economy based on GDP measured in PPP terms in 2022.
A pickup in services sector growth led by construction and trade, hotels, transport sectors along with higher investment supported growth in 2022 and are expected to continue driving it.
With a current GDP of about $3.5 trillion, the country is projected to reach $4.2 trillion next year with a nominal growth of 10.5 per cent.
It needs to grow the economy by an average of at least 9.1 per cent by 2027 to reach the $5 trillion mark and surpass Japan as the fourth largest economy and Germany for the third position, globally.
The country has more than 10 months of import cover in terms of foreign exchange reserves which is a trade-based indicator of adequacy of reserves.
Overall exports in 2022- 23 stood at US$ 776 billion.
India’s merchandise exports in 2023-24 stood at US$ 244.9 billion registering an overall contraction of seven per cent as the result of a decline in consumer demand across major advanced economies.
This has been due to slowing growth.
The EXIMBANK says the merchandise exports which contracted since February 2023, however, witnessed a rise in October 2023.
Coming closer home, the bank pegs India’s export potential to Africa at $48 billion in such products like rice, pharmaceutical products, machinery, motor vehicle parts and the like.
Of the $48 billion potential, $27 billion remains untapped.
It is for that reason that the Indian government through the EXIMBANK has identified 16 countries with massive economic potential which the bank is targeting to support.
Zambia is one of those 16 countries.
The EXIMBANK of India has placed Zambia in category ‘B’ whose members have massive potential with no significant issues, alongside countries like Ivory Coast, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco and Algeria.
EXIMBANK of India chief manager, Sara Joy says that Zambia and 15 other African countries have huge potential which the bank will help to exploit to ensure economic gains.
Ms Joy said this in her presentation to 30 African journalists representing 15 countries during the familiarisation visit to India at the bank’s offices recently.
Zambia’s massive potential is in irrigation, farming input and equipment, energy, mining, medical equipment, tourism as well as in Information and Communication Technology.
For its geographical and demographical size, generally India presents a big opportunity to small countries like Zambia.
This could be in any sector of the economy.
For instance, in tourism, imagine attracting just one per cent of the total population of more than 1.4 billion citizens for one year!
That would be 14 million tourists just from one country which by far surpasses the one million annual total arrivals we so much cherish.
Similarly, there is a yawning market for products like copper and its articles, edible fruit and nuts, ores, slag and ash, salt and Sulphur.
Others are earths and stone, vegetables, certain roots and tubers, oilseeds and oleaginous fruits, iron and steel, pulp of wood or of other fibrous material, wood and its articles, cotton, rubber and articles as well as many more.
By identifying one crop which could be earmarked for export to that vast country could be a foreign exchange spinner for Zambia because of the assured and steady market.
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