JOHANNESBURG – His Excellency, President Rupiah Banda of Zambia, hailed the virtues of Zambia’s booming business sector at the Zambia South Africa Business Forum in Johannesburg.
Speaking to a group of business and political leaders, including South African President Jacob Zuma, he warmly welcomed investment in the country as a means of improving national and regional development and prosperity.
President Banda said, “We recognise that Zambia must take full advantage of the benefits of trade and investment. Only then can we raise living standards of our citizens, create even more jobs and reduce poverty.”
The speech came as part of President Banda’s three day State Visit to South Africa, where he has signed bilateral agreements promoting trade and economic cooperation. He offered a host of investment opportunities, including in mining, production of high tech products, energy, oil exploration, tourism, and agriculture.
President Banda also highlighted the potential of Zambia’s excellent geographical location and proximity to growing markets to make it a stable gateway to the region for South Africa and other investors.
He said, “Zambia is a country where business can be done, across all sectors. Wealth, jobs and yet more opportunities are being created. Now is the time to take advantage. 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?’ There is nothing like good trade to cement international relations.”
The President outlined how infrastructure and technology improvements across Zambia will improve efficiencies and reduce the cost of doing business for all companies and entrepreneurs – for example, the commissioning of the Zimba-Livingstone Road and the imminent roll-out of high-speed broadband to rural Zambia.
Zambia’s achievements in improving the ease of doing business was recognised by the World Bank, which last month it named it as one of the top ten worldwide reformers in the 2011 World Bank Doing Business Report.
Zambia has already exceeded its foreign direct investment targets for 2010, having attracted $4.3 billion in pledges from a target of $3 billion. This marks a significant increase from 2009’s $959 million in pledges, including $1.4 billion for the mining sector alone, showing the increased global confidence in the Zambian mining sector. This has translated into at least 36, 000 new jobs.
In 2009 the Zambian economy grew by 6.4% against the projected growth rate of 4.3%. The 2010 GDP growth rate is expected to be 6.6% and inflation has been reduced, offering a stable and desirable investment climate in 2011 and beyond.