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Africa Report


VOL.7 August 2015
Fair Trade
Zambia's international trade fair promotes regional and global investment
By Humphrey Nkonde

The 51st Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) held in Ndola, the nation's third largest city and headquarters of Copperbelt Province, from July 1 to 7, attracted a slew of global exhibitors. Themed Prosperity through Business Reforms and Linkages, the most encouraging thing about this premier forum promoting trade and investment both inside and outside Zambia was the number of African countries taking part in it.

The exhibitors came from as far as China, India and the United States while Africa was represented by Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria and Egypt. They ranged from manufacturers and merchants to service organizations, financial institutions, transporters and government institutions.
Local and international Chinese companies participated in the ZITF.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta delivered the keynote address at the opening of the ZITF, calling for deeper cooperation among African countries and ease of trade for the continent's economic advancement.

"Our continent's economic emancipation depends on strong ties among nations. There is a need to remove all remaining barriers to trade," Kenyatta said.

He noted that the ZITF could be used to showcase products by foreign companies. Kenyatta, an entrepreneur who founded a horticultural company, Wilham Kenya, prior to entering politics, invited Zambian businesses to this year's Nairobi International Trade Fair.

"I am encouraging Zambian businesses to also market their products in Kenya during the Nairobi International Trade Fair to be held in September," he said.

Kenyatta toured both local and international exhibitors' stalls with his Zambian counterpart, President Edgar Lungu.

The Zambian leader said he was delighted with this year's theme. "Indeed, this is a befitting theme, which is challenging every citizen of this country and the corporate entities alike to partner with the government in reviewing our performance and undertaking necessary reforms at both individual and national levels," Lungu remarked.

He pointed out that Zambia was among the top 10 African countries in both the World Bank's ease of doing business index and the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report between 2014 and 2015.

"My government will therefore continue upholding and making policies that are meant to create an enabling environment for enterprises to do business," Lungu said.

Zambia and Kenya are both members of the African Union and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Both are former British colonies and both have close ties with China. They also have tourism potential and are looking to China for extra international arrivals by projecting their resources, such as Kenya's Tsavo National Park and the Victoria Falls, a World Heritage Site Zambia shares with neighboring Zimbabwe. Chinese companies are present in Zambia and Kenya, where they are involved in various projects including construction of roads and other infrastructure.

The ZITF dates back to 1956, eight years before Zambia, then Northern Rhodesia, gained independence from Britain. Being an old institution, the ZITF venue and its facilities are located in former colonial buildings in need of replacement.

This presents investment as well as international cooperation possibilities with global giants like China, especially as some of the advanced renovations outlined in the plans to upgrade the venue cannot be done by local contractors.

In the 2015 catalogue, ZITF General Manager Alex Mayeya has estimated that between $20 and $50 million is required to modernize the ZITF infrastructure. The new upgrade plan includes exhibition halls, an international convention center, an office complex, food courts, retails shops, a theme park and an ultra-modern stadium.

One area where Chinese companies are offering a viable option is power production. Several Chinese companies displayed solar products at this year's event in response to Zambia's power outage woes, caused by low water levels in the Zambezi River, which has affected electricity generation at the Kariba Dam. As a result, ZESCO, Zambia's state-owned power producer, is rationing power supply, especially during the peak evening hours.

Cooperation among African countries and international trade fostered by events such as the ZITF can boost economic growth and improve investment from global giants like China.

(Reporting from Zambia)





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