Zambia is already doing business with the world-RB

SPEECH TO DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY MR. RUPIAH BWEZANI BANDA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA, AT THE ZAMBIA SOUTH AFRICA BUSINESS FORUM, JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, DECEMBER 03,2010

YOUR EXCELLENCY MR. JACOB ZUMA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA;

HONOURABLE MINISTERS AND DEPUTY MINISTERS OF SOUTH AFRICA AND ZAMBIA;

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS;

OFFICIALS FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA HERE PRESENT;

OFFICIALS FROM THE VARIOUS BUSINESS HOUSES IN SOUTH AFRICA AND ZAMBIA;

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS;

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN;

YOUR EXCELLENCY, I MUST BEGIN BY THANKING YOU, THE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA FOR THE WARM HOSPITALITY ACCORDED TO ME AND MY DELEGATION.

I AM PRIVILEGED AND HONOURED TO BE PART OF THIS ZAMBIA – SOUTH AFRICA BUSINESS FORUM. THIS FORUM IS OF EXTRA SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE TO THE RELATIONS BETWEEN ZAMBIA AND SOUTH AFRICA. OUR AIM IS NOT ONLY TO BROADEN THE SCOPE OF RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES, BUT TO ALSO STIMULATE MORE DIRECT INTERACTION BETWEEN THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND THE BUSINESS COMMUNITIES THROUGH THE PROMOTION OF ECONOMIC AND TRADE COOPERATION.

ALLOW ME TO PROVIDE A LITTLE BACKGROUND.

SO FAR IN 2010 FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT PLEDGES TO ZAMBIA ARE UP FROM THE 2009 FIGURE OF $959M TO $4.3 BILLION. AND TO THINK OUR TARGET FOR 2010 WAS $3 BILLION. WE HAVE OUT-PERFORMED EVEN OUR OWN ESTIMATES. THIS HAS EQUATED DIRECTLY TO 36,000 NEW JOBS CREATED, AND I DO NOT INCLUDE THE ADDITIONAL SPIN-OFF JOBS.

OUR MINING SECTOR ATTRACTED $1.4 BILLION, TRANSLATING INTO 3,800 NEW JOBS. AND THIS WAS A SECTOR THAT WAS SEVERELY HIT BY THE 2008 GLOBAL COLLAPSE OF COPPER PRICES. CONFIDENCE IN ZAMBIAN MINING IS BACK.

MOST OF THE PLEDGES COME FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR. PLANNED INVESTMENTS TOTAL SOME $1.6 BILLION THAT WILL CREATE AN ESTIMATED 19,500 NEW JOBS

IT IS FOR REASONS SUCH AS THIS THAT I AM ACCOMPANIED BY A STRONG DELEGATION OF THE ZAMBIAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY SEEKING BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS WITH THEIR SOUTH AFRICAN COLLEAGUES. OUR AIM IS TO SECURE VIABLE BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS WHICH WILL GROW INTO THE FUTURE.

YOUR EXCELLENCY

THEY ARE ACCOMPANIED BY OFFICIALS FROM MY GOVERNMENT AND THE ZAMBIA DEVELOPMENT AGENCY WHO HAVE BEEN HIGHLIGHTING THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE TO INVESTORS IN ZAMBIA.

THEIR ROLE IS TO FACILITATE AND TO PROVIDE CLARITY ON ISSUES SURROUNDING BUSINESS AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN ZAMBIA.

YOUR EXCELLENCY

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

MY GOVERNMENT HAS TAKEN ON BOARD THE POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES OF THE FREE MARKET LIBERALISATION POLICIES. WE HAVE INTEGRATED THESE WITH OUR OWN DOMESTIC ASPIRATIONS FOR SOCIAL AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT.

THIS IS BECAUSE WE RECOGNISE THE FACT THAT ZAMBIA MUST TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF THE BENEFITS OF TRADE AND INVESTMENT. ONLY THEN CAN WE RAISE THE LIVING STANDARDS OF OUR CITIZENS, CREATE EVEN MORE JOBS, AND REDUCE POVERTY.

MY GOVERNMENT HAS CONTINUED TO CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT TO GIVE PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE SUCCESSFULLY IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY.

EVEN WITH THE BACKDROP OF A GLOBAL RECESSION THE ZAMBIAN ECONOMY CAN NOW BOAST OF CONSISTENTLY RECORDING POSITIVE ECONOMIC GROWTH RATES.

IN 2009, OUR ECONOMY GREW BY 6.4% AGAINST THE PROJECTED GROWTH RATE OF 4.3%. THIS YEAR WE EXPECT A GDP GROWTH RATE OF 6.6%. INFLATION HAS BEEN REDUCED FROM 9.9% IN DECEMBER 2009 TO 7.3% THIS OCTOBER.

IN SUPPORT OF THESE FIGURES THIS LAST YEAR WE HAVE SEEN:

– MINERAL EXPORT EARNINGS OF $4.2 BILLION,

– OTHER EXPORT EARNINGS OF $1.4 BILLION

– A STABLE EXCHANGE RATE

AT THIS STAGE A POLITICIAN WOULD NORMALLY SAY SOMETHING LIKE “ZAMBIA IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS”, BUT I HAVE SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO SAY, “ZAMBIA IS ALREADY DOING BUSINESS, WHY NOT JOIN US”

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS

WE HAVE EMBARKED ON A NUMBER OF INITIATIVES AIMED AT IMPROVING THE BUSINESS CLIMATE.  WE BEGAN WITH THE COMPREHENSIVE BUSINESS LICENSING REFORM PROGRAMME WHOSE OVERALL OBJECTIVE WAS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF UNNECESSARY LICENSING REQUIREMENTS. IT ALSO SERVES TO MAKE THE LICENSING AND REGULATORY REGIMES MORE EFFICIENT, MORE TRANSPARENT AND BETTER FOCUSED.

WE HAVE ALSO EMBARKED ON TRADE POLICY REFORMS THAT HAVE INCLUDED THE REMOVAL OF IMPORT CONTROLS AND QUANTITATIVE RESTRICTIONS, SIMPLIFYING EXPORT LICENSING SYSTEMS AND INTRODUCING A MARKET DETERMINED EXCHANGE RATE.

I AM PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THESE INITIATIVES ARE WORKING. ZAMBIA’S ROSE FROM 90TH TO 76TH IN THE WORLD BANK’S 2010 ‘EASE OF DOING BUSINESS’ INDEX.

THIS MAKES ZAMBIA ONE OF THE TOP 10 REFORMERS IN THE WORLD.

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR AND SUSTAINING ITS COMPETITIVENESS REMAINS OUR MAJOR FOCUS.

TO DRIVE THIS I HAVE INSTRUCTED GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS TO FACILITATE THE UP-SCALING OF THE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR TOWARDS HIGHER VALUE ADDITION AND IMPROVED CAPACITY – ESPECIALLY IN THE PROVISION OF ENERGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE.

WE HAVE ALSO PLACED GREAT EMPHASIS ON TARGETTING SUPPORT AT MEDIUM AND SMALL SCALE BUSINESS ENTITIES.

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE IN MINING, PRODUCTION OF ENGINEERED AND HIGH TECH PRODUCTS, ENERGY INCLUDING OIL EXPLORATION, AGRICULTURE AND AGRO PROCESSING. OPPORTUNITIES ALSO EXIST IN TOURISM, INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY, INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND MANUFACTURING.

ZAMBIA HAS ESTABLISHED MULTI FACILITY ECONOMIC ZONES AND INDUSTRIAL PARKS. THE FOCUS OF THESE ECONOMIC ZONES IS MAINLY MANUFACTURING AND VALUE ADDITION.

THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS IS FALLING. SINCE WE PART-PRIVATISED ZAMTEL INTERNATIONAL CALL CHARGES HAVE FALLEN BY 70%.

WE ARE ALSO ROLLING OUT A FIBRE-OPTIC NETWORK SO THAT MOST URBAN AND RURAL AREAS WILL HAVE HIGH SPEED BROADBAND VERY SOON.

AFTER MY ELECTION IN 2008 I REDUCED ENTRY VISA COSTS FROM $150 DOWN TO $50.

ZAMBIA IS A COUNTRY WHERE BUSINESS CAN BE DONE, ACROSS ALL SECTORS. WEALTH, JOBS AND YET MORE OPPRTUNITIES ARE BEING CREATED. NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ADVANTAGE.

DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS

WITH THESE THOUGTHS IN MIND IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THERE IS MUCH SCOPE FOR EXPANSION OF ECONOMIC RELATIONS BETWEEN ZAMBIA AND SOUTH AFRICA.

BY INVESTING IN ZAMBIA, THE SOUTH AFRICAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ZAMBIA’S EXCELLENT GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION. WE BORDER EIGHT COUNTRIES SO ARE AN IDEAL SPRINGBOARD INTO GROWING MARKETS. I CAN THINK OF NO BETTER EXAMPLE THAT THE DRC. WE ALL KNOW OF THE POTENTIAL OF THAT VAST COUNTRY. ZAMBIA CAN BE THE STABLE PLATFORM INTO THAT RELATIVELY UNTAPPED LAND.

JUST LAST MONTH I OPENNED THE NEW ZIMBA – LIVINGSTONE ROAD.  IT IS A KEY ROAD THAT LINKS  ZAMBIA – BOTSWANA – NAMIBIA AND EVENTUALLY SOUTH AFRICA.

SIMILARLY, THE ZAMBIAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOUTH AFRICA’S CLOSE TRADING TIES WITH EUROPE AND THE REST OF THE WORLD AND USE IT AS AN EXPORT ROUTE OF ZAMBIAN MANUFACTURED GOODS TO THESE MARKETS.

IT IS MY SINCERE HOPE, THEREFORE, THAT THIS BUSINESS FORUM WILL PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY TO EXCHANGE INFORMATION ABOUT EACH OTHERS MARKETS, BUSINESS CLIMATE, AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES.

YOUR EXCELLENCY

ALLOW ME TO CONCLUDE BY STATING THAT ZAMBIA IS READY TO TAKE A GIANT LEAP IN AGRICULTURE WITH A FOCUS ON AGRO – PROCESSING; INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM, AMONG OTHERS. IT IS MY HOPE THAT WE WILL BE SEEING SOME OF YOU IN ZAMBIA, COMING TO EXPLORE BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES.

I REMAIN CONFIDENT THAT VIABLE PARTNERSHIPS WILL BE ESTABLISHED BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICAN AND ZAMBIAN BUSINESSMEN AND WOMEN.

THERE IS NOTHING LIKE GOOD TRADE TO CEMENT INTERNATIONS RELATIONS.

I THANK YOU.

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