EAZ plans another economic summit 

By Staff Reporter
The Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) is planning another national economic summit in April, 2020 after successfully hosting over 720 delegates in Livingstone last month.
Briefing journalists Thursday morning, EAZ president Dr. Lubinda Haabazoka said the summit would be held under the theme: “Sustainable Development Goals, We are 10 years to 2030; Where are we as Africa?”
The EAZ president declared last month’s Summit held in Livingstone a success and may help in building Zambia’s economy.
He said among the key take aways from the recently ended national economic summit included the need to address the high interest rates and liquidity challenges as this continues to weigh SME financing.
“There is need for more meaningful access to finance for SMEs through addressing and waiving stringent requirements that banks request for from SMEs such as audited financials and collateral. There is need for meaningful and sustainable funding to SMEs to allow them blossom into big corporations overtime,” he said.
Dr. Haabazoka stated that the other take away from the summit was the need to rethink energy diversification to cushion against power deficits.
“Zambia has key projects in the pipeline such as Kafue Lower for 750MW due end of next year, Lusiwasi lower and upper in addition to other key solar projects in the pipeline that will hedge the copper producer from future bottlenecks. However, it is evident that Zambia is well positioned to be Southern Africa’s net energy exporter with the Batoka 2, 400MW earmarked for completion in 2024,” he said.
“Proposed solutions to some of the energy challenges include de-risking of energy risks with models that transfer risks to fiscal balance sheets. Entities like GreenCo Company Ltd are key in providing renewable energy avenues such as solar projects”.
Dr. Haabazoka also indicated that the other issue that was extensively looked at at the summit was the need for local businesses support for value addition purposes.
He added that local businesses involved in value addition need to be assisted with a conducive environment to achieve the requisite growth.
“Entities such as Zambia Metal Fabricators Plc and Neelkanth Cables Ltd have immense potential to grow in the manufacture of copper cables if the right conditions are designed such as purchasing copper at negotiated local prices as opposed to London Metal Exchange pricing which balloons their operating costs,” said Dr. Haabazoka.
The EAZ President further said the other issue discussed was the need for Vision 2030 for Zambia and Africa 2063 to align with the electric car era and technology era.
“One of the recommendations is to use economic diplomacy through ambassadors in countries that produce cars such as Germany to facilitate discussions and agreements between Zambia and these entities for direct purchase of these minerals,” he revealed.
He further revealed that the other issue looked at was the need for the aviation costs to ease, competitiveness and  sustainability of National Airline.
“How the airline industry can be used to revamp dead industries such as horticulture? Aviation costs remain elevated and one of the highest in Africa making it very uncompetitive to run airlines locally. Flying local routes in Zambia is almost the same cost as flying regional routes as such the Ministry of transport will require to relook the aviation cost structure. With a national airline soon to be launched, the question of sustainability of operations is of key concern given that the last National Airline was commercially not viable,” he said.
“However, with a well-crafted viable business model, the airline industry could be strategically used to revamp dead industries such as the fresh cut flower (horticulture) industry to life. The likes of Agriflora collapsed due to lack of access to markets given high transport costs into Europe. However, with a local airline and access to commercially viable routes, the fresh cut industry could potentially come to life to compete with the East African market.”
He said another issue of importance that was looked at is the need for partnership between white farms and locals.
He indicated that Zambia’s political stability makes the agriculture environment predictable.
“It was established during the summit that Zambia is one of the few countries that have a well-defined title deed system, with its arable landscape, makes it a very attractive destination for farming investments. An opportunity that exists for Zambian farming landscape is for partnerships with white farmers that are facing land expropriation policy changes this will ensure technology transfer and increased productivity for Zambian agro sector. This was established during a session on agriculture with World Farmers Organization President Theo De Jager,” he disclosed.
The EAZ President further stated that the summit agreed that there was need to boost manufacturing capability to position Zambia for intra Africa trade.
“Africa has a combined population of about 1.25 billion inhabitants with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Africa has an immense opportunity to trade with itself. However, this will require that African nations start to produce competitive products on the international markets. The Africa Free Trade Area is one initiative that African nations, Zambia inclusive, have taken up to actualize intra Africa trade. Other initiatives include MANSA digital platform that will enhance the visibility of African businesses to allow for trade with each other. Intra Africa trade will address some of the trade imbalances the continent faces today,” he disclosed.
Dr. Haabazoka stated that the summit also resolved that there was need for infrastructure funding under private public partnerships (PPPs).
He said the Association support infrastructure development for the country in light of the existing gap.