Govt’s stance on biofuels production laudable
Published On January 2, 2014 » 2519 Views» By Hildah Lumba » Letters to the Editor
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The announcement that commercial production of biofuels as an alternative to imported fossil fuels  in Zambia is expected to commence after the government’s acceptance of producer prices is laudable.

Coupled with Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZs) in Lusaka and Chambishi, the country is ready for biofuel business.

These industrial parks are designed to attract foreign companies to the country’s abundant natural resources to process them inside the country. This would hopefully create jobs and export Zambia out of poverty.

Such enclaves have mushroomed across the Southern African Development Community region, following their reported success in igniting industrialisation and development in Asia.

While this sounds promising, some question whether these MFEZs
can be a success because Zambia lacks wider infrastructure and a skilled labour force.

It also faces stiff competition from its neighbours to attract foreign investors.

A country like Mauritius has been able to create jobs and export, because they emphasise unregulated, low-wage and labour-intensive industries like textiles.

Albeit MFEZs have not lived up to their promise of Asian style industrialisation in Africa.

They have been enormously disappointing if we assess their links to local industries and the level of job creation verses their cost.

They tend to drive down wages, and governments lose tax revenue. Arguably, they are questionable as a development tool on their own.

They need a holistic industrialisation strategy to work – encouraging manufacturing outside the zones in parallel.

Apparently, they have been used as a quick fix in Africa.

Admittedly, Zambia is looking for investors from its diaspora – people
who are connected to the country.

MUBANGA LUCHEMBE

LUSAKA

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