Stanbic Bank (Zambia) Limited says it is prepared to work with the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), and other stakeholders to accelerate the country’s economic diversification through value addition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stanbic Bank Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mwindwa Siakalima said that the bank is prepared to take the initiative and partner with local entrepreneurs and manufacturers in boosting the growth of the country’s economy.

Siakalima noted that despite the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, the country cannot afford to implement a full lockdown to flatten the curve due to its heavy dependence on imports.

The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed the weakness of the country’s failure to go into total lockdown due to severe lack of adequate self-reliance in terms of value addition which is essentially denying the country one of the most useful tools in combating the deadly disease,

the CFO said.

The Bank’s CFO explained that the country cannot attain its growth target if it fails to grow its manufacturing sector as this is one of the most important sectors of an economy.

He further explained that a fully developed manufacturing sector would not only boost the country’s revenue stream and create sustainable employment, but it would also help shore up national Forex reserves through exports which is important in supporting the local currency.

And Zambia Association of Manufacturers President, Ezekiel Sekele said financial institutions are well-positioned to take a leading role in driving Zambia’s industrialisation agenda.

Mr. Sekele who is also Zambia Breweries Plc Corporate Affairs Director noted that COVID-19 has injected the necessary energy for the country to prioritise self-reliance in terms of value addition.

“The silver lining of this pandemic is that we have seen a marked growth in local sourcing as cross border trading has slowed down because of the virus,” he said.

The ZAM President explained that this can only be done by ensuring that shelves of chain stores in the country are filled with locally produced food.

Mr. Sekele further stated that the association’s is goal is to grow the local manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to more than 30 percent in the next decade which is in line with the country’s growth target.

According to the World Bank, Zambia’s manufacturing sector contributes less than 10 percent to national GDP.

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