By CHUSA SICHONE –
FORMER First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa has said there is need for Zambia to add value to its goods and services before consuming and exporting them.
Speaking during the launch of the Africa Development Bank (ADB) 50th anniversary celebrations on the topic “The Africa We Want” in Lusaka recently, Dr Mwanawasa said Zambia had the potential to become like any other successful country.
“The Africa I would like to see is that we should eat what we grow, we should be able to add value to everything that we are exporting out of this country and also to start from somewhere. We cannot talk of exports before we can produce and add value to the things that we produce,” she said.
Dr Mwanawasa observed that Zambia had a comparative advantage in every province and district and was endowed with natural resources but that they had not been fully exploited.
“There is no reason Eastern Province cannot be producing edible oils for the whole province. They produce a lot of sunflower, they produce a lot of groundnuts but these are going out of Eastern Province in their raw form.
“Cooking oil still has to come from Lusaka after getting the raw material from Eastern Province so they do a double trip to get the raw material to Lusaka to come and add value and then take it back to Eastern Province,” Dr Mwanawasa.
Dr Mwanawasa said a similar state of affairs was the case, when it came to maize farmers who grew the crop but ended up travelling at a cost to other areas to buy mealie meal.
She said there was need for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to ensure that it sets up milling plants in areas where maize was grown, besides creating adequate storage facilities for the grain.
“There is no need to bring the maize all the way from Northern Province into Lusaka and then take back the finished products to Northern Province,” she said.
On tourism, the former First Lady said the situation where one tourist was viewing 10 animals in Zambia as compared to countries like South Africa where 10 tourists viewed one animal, had to be reversed as Zambia had the resources to attract as many tourists as possible.
Dr Mwanawasa also challenged African countries not to entirely depend on cooperating partners like ADB to bring a “miracle” to the continent without them putting up the required efforts.