The economy of Zambia has been under-performing for a long time now and there is urgent need to diversify the sectors which the economy is dependent on. THE economy of Zambia has been under-performing for a long time now and there is urgent need to diversify the sectors which the economy is dependent on.
From the post-independence period to date, the economy has heavily relied on foreign currency earnings from copper which apparently is proving to be unsustainable. It is unsustainable in that the country does not have the manufacturing machinery to process the very copper into finished products. Copper exports amount to approximately 77 percent of the country’s income.
In addition, the copper prices are determined by foreign markets such as the London Metal exchange. Any changes in the prices impacts negatively or positively on the economy. In the case of low prices, the Zambian economy dwindles and the country has little if not no control in the pricing. This begs the question; why has the government everlastingly relied on copper mining as a source of capital when it cannot process the copper or control its price on the international markets?
Zambia needs to take a leaf from other large copper exporting countries such as Chile. Despite being a large exporter, Chile is also the largest grape exporter in the world. The country exports 20.6 percent of the total international grape export. Now this is keeping ones eggs in several baskets, a practice Zambia needs, and must emulate.
Zambia is gifted with eye catching natural resources that many tourists are willing to spend millions of dollars just to have a glance at. There is need to beautify these tourists attractions even further so as to make them more appealing to the eye and create an enabling environment for touring. For instance the mighty Chishimba falls in Northern Province, has no accommodation. This means all those who would want to go there have to spend a night in Kasama, which is located over 30 Kilometers away from the falls. This tends to be inconveniencing and discouraging to tourists and potential tourists.
There is urgent need to boost the tourism sector by providing accommodation at tourist attractions in order to make it easy for tourists to spend many days there and hence generate income for the country.
In addition, the movie and music industries need to be upgraded. The quality of movies and music albums produced must improve so that artists can sell their work to the international market. This would bring in revenue for the country. People love good entertainment. Take for instance Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood. These movie industries generate income for their countries. Nollywood generates over $500 million annually.
If more money can be invested in the art industry, it can generate money for the country and hence improve the economy. There are a lot of talented actors, actresses and musicians in Zambian. All they need is nurturing.
Another sector that needs to be given the seriousness it deserves when it comes to income generating for the country is the agriculture sector. There is overreliance on maize as a farm product. However, there are other crops that farmers can grow in large quantities on this fertile Zambian soil and export. For instance beans, cassava, millet, sorghum, rice, groundnuts just to mention but a few.
Moreover, Zambia has many water bodies so it should not be a matter of rains or no rains. The government needs to put up measures to promote irrigation farming. Farmers need to be sensitized on the benefits of irrigation farming and its importance in boosting the country’s economy.
The government needs to make the Zambian Agriculture, Tourism and Arts sectors more marketable. It should invest in these essential sectors and create a platform for economic diversification. It is high time Zambia moved away from copper mining as a major source of income, which is apparently unsustainable.
Photo by mm-j