What RB said in Nigeria

ADDRESS BY

HIS EXCELLENCY MR. RUPIAH BWEZANI BANDA

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA

 

ON THE OCCASION OF THE ZAMBIA-NIGERIA BUSINESS FORUM 

ON 30TH SEPTEMBER, 2010

 

CABINET MINISTERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS FROM BOTH ZAMBIA AND NIGERIA

CHIEF EXECUTIVES, HEADS AND REPRESENTATIVES OF CORPORATE, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR ORGANIZATIONS

ALL PROTOCOLS OBSERVED

DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

MEMBERS OF THE PRESS

ON BEHALF OF MY GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA, AND INDEED ON MY OWN BEHALF, I WISH TO EXPRESS MY DEEP APPRECIATION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA AND ITS PEOPLE FOR THE WARM RECEPTION ACCORDED TO ME AND MY DELEGATION SINCE OUR ARRIVAL IN YOUR BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY, AND IN PARTICULAR IN THE BEAUTIFUL CITY OF ABUJA.  I ALSO WISH TO EXPRESS MY SINCERE GRATITUDE THAT THIS ZAMBIA-NIGERIA BUSINESS FORUM HAS BEEN ORGANISED AND COMMEND THE ORGANIZERS FOR A JOB WELL DONE.
WHEN I BECAME PRESIDENT IN NOVEMBER 2008, MY FIRST STATE VISIT WAS TO NIGERIA. WHY? BECAUSE ZAMBIA FEELS EXTREMELY FORTUNATE TO HAVE NIGERIA AS A PARTNER IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.   OUR TWO COUNTRIES HAVE A GREAT DEAL TO OFFER EACH OTHER, IN THE LONG-TERM, FOR THE MUTUAL BENEFIT OF BOTH OF OUR PEOPLES.

I WAS PARTICULARY HONOURED BY THE INVITATION EXTENDED TO ME BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN, FOR ZAMBIA TO JOIN IN THE INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS OF THIS COUNTRY. IT STRUCK ME IMMEDIATELY THAT THIS WOULD BE A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO SHOWCASE THE IMMENSE INVESTMENT AND TRADE OPPORTUNITIES THAT ZAMBIA HAS TO OFFER TO THE NIGERIAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY. TO THAT EFFECT I HAVE BROUGHT WITH ME A DELEGATION OF OVER 35 ZAMBIAN BUSINESSMEN AND WOMEN.  I ENCOURAGE YOU ALL, PLEASE. TO MEET, GREET AND TALK WITH THEM. WE HAVE MUCH TO LEARN FROM, AND SHARE WITH, EACH OTHER.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

THOUGH RELATIONS BETWEEN ZAMBIA AND NIGERIA ARE WARM, THE LEVEL OF INVESTMENT AND TRADE BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES HAS REMAINED RELATIVELY MODEST.  IN 2009 NIGERIA EXPORTED GOODS TO ZAMBIA WORTH $442,000 – MAINLY IRON, STEEL MACHINERY, HUMAN HAIR AND PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS. MEANWHILE ZAMBIA’S EXPORTS TO NIGERIA WERE INSIGNIFICANT BY COMPARISON.

THESE FIGURES TELL ME THAT THERE IS STILL TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL AND SCOPE FOR IMPROVING TRADE, BUILDING ON THE STRONG ECONOMIC COMPLEMENTARITIES BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES.

THERE IS WITHOUT DOUBT ROOM FOR OUR TWO COUNTRIES TO STRENGTHEN TRADE AND INVESTMENT TIES. THIS IS PARTICULARLY SO IN THOSE SECTORS IN WHICH NIGERIA HAS A CLEAR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE, BOTH IN TERMS OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS OF FINISHED PRODUCTS AND RAW MATERIALS. OUR TWO COUNTRIES ARE, AFTER ALL, ENDOWED WITH VAST AND RICH NATURAL RESOURCES. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

I HAVE FOLLOWED WITH KEEN INTEREST THE IMPRESSIVE ECONOMIC PROGRESS THAT NIGERIA HAS ACHIEVED OVER THE YEARS.

I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT ZAMBIA HAS ALSO MADE SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC PROGRESS AS EVIDENCED BY OUR GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT GROWTH RATE OF ABOVE 6 PERCENT ATTAINED IN 2009 IN THE MIDST OF A GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS. THIS GROWTH WAS DRIVEN LARGELY BY EXPANSION IN THE MINING, AGRICULTURE AND TOURISM SECTORS, AS WELL AS IN SOME NON-TRADITIONAL MINERALS SECTORS.

OWING TO THE PRUDENT ECONOMIC POLICIES MY GOVERNMENT IMPLEMENTED DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS, INFLATION STOOD AT 8.2 PERCENT IN AUGUST 2010, WHILE LENDING RATES HAVE DROPPED FROM AS HIGH AS 40% TO AROUND 26%. OUR RESERVES HAVE INCREASED TO OVER 4 MONTHS OF IMPORT COVER.

WE ARE ALSO IMPLEMENTING A NUMBER OF REFORMS AIMED AT REDUCING THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS. THESE HAVE IMPROVED OUR STANDING IN THE WORLD BANK’S DOING BUSINESS RANKINGS TO 90th OUT OF 183 COUNTRIES. ZAMBIA NOW RANKS THIRD IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

APART FROM EXPORTS OF COPPER AND COBALT, ZAMBIA HAS A NUMBER OF WHAT WE REFER TO AS NON-TRADITIONAL EXPORTS INCLUDING ORES, SLAG AND ASH, SUGAR AND SUGAR CONFECTIONERY, DAIRY PRODUCTS, BIRD’S EGGS, NATURAL HONEY, EDIBLE PRODUCTS, COPPER WIRE AND ELECTRICITY

WE HAVE BEEN POSITIONING OURSELVES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF, AND BENEFIT FROM, GLOBALIZATION. WE REALIZE THE NEED FOR VALUE ADDITION TO THE ABUNDANT NATURAL RESOURCES WITH WHICH WE ARE BLESSED, IF WE ARE TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH. WE ARE THEREFORE DIVERSIFYING OUR PRIORITIES TO INCLUDE VALUE ADDITION INDUSTRIES SUCH AS AGRO-PROCESSING, MINERAL PROCESSING, INFORMATION COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AND SOCIAL SECTORS SUCH AS HEALTH AND EDUCATION.

IN ADDITION, GOVERNMENT IS ENCOURAGING THE PARTICIPATION OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR, BOTH DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN, TO PARTNER WITH US IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE INCLUDING ROADS, RAILWAYS, ENERGY AND OTHERS THROUGH OUR PUBLIC, PRIVATE, PARTNERSHIP (PPP) ACT. THIS IS YET ANOTHER AREA OF POSSIBLE INVESTMENT FOR THE NIGERIAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

ZAMBIA MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO BOAST AS LARGE A POPULATION AS OUR NIGERIAN COUNTERPARTS, WE CAN HOWEVER BOAST OF OUR POSITION AT THE CENTRE OF EIGHT NEIGHBOURS. THIS GIVES US A TRULY STRATEGIC LOCATION AND THE POTENTIAL TO BE A HUB FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF GOODS AND SERVICES IN THE REGION AND BEYOND.

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMON MARKET FOR EAST AND SOUTHERN AFRICA AND OF THE SOUTHERN AFRICA DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY GIVES ZAMBIA AN ADDITIONAL MARKET AND ACCESS TO A COMBINED POPULATION OF OVER 400 MILLION PEOPLE.  SIMILARLY, DUTY FREE ACCESS TO THE HUGE MARKET REPRESENTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THROUGH THE AFRICA GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITY ACT (AGOA) IS A REALITY. IN ADDITION ZAMBIA IS ELIGIBLE FOR PREFERENTIAL MARKET ACCESS THROUGH THE EBA, CHINESE, JAPANESE AND CANADIAN MARKET INITIATIVES. ALL THESE OFFER HUGE MARKET POTENTIAL FOR ZAMBIAN PRODUCTS – POTENTIAL THAT INVESTORS CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

I INVITE YOU TO REAP THE MAXIMUM POSSIBLE BENEFIT FROM THIS FORUM AND TO FREELY EXCHANGE VIEWS AND OPINIONS THAT WILL FOSTER PARTNERSHIPS, BUILD BUSINESS LINKS AND EXPLORE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES.

THE EVER CHANGING INVESTMENT CLIMATE, THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS, RECENT TRENDS IN THE INTERNATIONAL FLOW OF INVESTMENT, AND THE EMERGENCE OF NEW ECONOMIC GIANTS SHOW THERE IS A NEED FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES TO REDUCE THEIR DEPENDENCE ON THE DEVELOPED WORLD AS A SOURCE OF FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT. 

IT IS TIME WE REVIEWED OUR INVESTMENT STRATEGIES AND REALIZED THAT INVESTMENT AMONG AND BETWEEN OURSELVES IS POSSIBLE. THIS IS EVIDENCED BY INVESTORS SUCH AS ACCES BANK, DANGOTE, MULTI- TREX AGRO-ALLIED PROCESSING LIMITED AND UBA BANK IN ZAMBIA AND THE INVESTMENT OF ZAMBEEF IN NIGERIA. THE RECENT ACTIVITY BY THESE COMPANIES ILLUSTRATES THE HUGE POTENTIAL FOR INVESTMENT THAT EXISTS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

AS NIGERIA CELEBRATES ITS 50TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY LET THIS BE A TURNING POINT. I URGE NIGERIAN BUSINESS HOUSES TO EXPAND THEIR BUSINESSES INTO OTHER AFRICAN COUNTRIES – AND TO LOOK TO ZAMBIA AS A FIRST PORT OF CALL.

I THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!

Share this post