PRESIDENT Michael Sata says Zambia is still very primitive because it sells copper in its raw form.
Speaking to delegates of the Zambia-Korea Business Forum here yesterday, President Sata said Zambia had abundant mineral resources but lacked the technology to add value to its raw materials.
“We are still so primitive because we are still selling our copper and other minerals as raw materials,” he said, adding “but if you (Korean investors) came, you can make Zambia a springboard for Africa’s economic growth.”
Zambia produces around 700,000 tonnes of copper per annum, which accounts for 80 per cent of the country’s exports, and there are plans to grow this figure to around 1.5 million tonnes by 2015.
China is the world’s biggest single consumer of copper and represents a growing proportion of Zambia’s export market.
The US$800 million multi-facility economic zone being established in Chambishi by the Chinese is expected to provide an opportunity for value addition to the country’s copper.
President Sata said Zambia needs more industries for its economic development as it strives to provide employment for thousands of unemployed youth.
“Before I became a politician, I introduced Hyundai and Daewoo to Zambia… but now Samsung is opening another factory here in Seoul instead of Zambia where we have a population hungry for technology. We need more of Korean investments; we need to encourage trade between Korea and Zambia,” he said.
President Sata also said Zambia and Korea had a lot in common and hoped the two countries could continue to work together for their peoples’ benefit.
“You have the technology and money but you have no land and your labour cost is expensive, but we have relatively cheap labour with a lot of land… so Zambia and Korea have a lot in common,” said President Sata.
And commerce minister Bob Sichinga asked Korean investors to invest in Zambia’s key industries owing to attractive incentives being offered by the government such as the five-year tax free period.
“If you don’t come, the Chinese will come; if you don’t come, the Americans will come; if you don’t come, the British will come,” said Sichinga, who is among ministers who have accompanied President Sata on his official visit to South Korea.
Others are foreign affairs minister Given Lubinda, agriculture minister Emmanuel Chenda and tourism and arts minister Sylvia Masebo.
Masebo also took time to market Zambia’s tourism potential and asked Korean businesses to take part in next year’s United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly to be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Chenda highlighted Zambia’s agricultural potential as the industry was the country’s economic mainstay.
“One of the sub-sectors we are developing is the livestock industry and also aquaculture. We have abundant water resources and that gives us potential to develop the fish farming industry. There is also great potential for development of agricultural machinery,” said Chenda. “…The challenge is on grain storage facilities, and herein lies the potential for development of storage facilities.”
Meanwhile, first lady Dr Christine Kaseba says political will in Zambia is sufficient to attract credible investors as the government seeks ways to create jobs for the many unemployed citizens.
During a tour of Daihan Labtech Company Limited located in the outskirts of Seoul yesterday, Dr Kaseba asked the company to consider setting up base in Zambia owing to the high demand for medical equipment in the African region.
Daihan Labtech which has factories in India and Indonesia supplies its laboratory, medical and industrial equipment to the African market, and registers a higher turnover of around US$16.5 million from the continent than others such as Europe.
“Then why not have a factory in Africa and Zambia in particular? Zambia has a lot of land and political will is there. The government is trying to create jobs for the people,” she said. “Instead of having only a dealership in Africa, we need a factory to saturate the market. Don’t use Indonesia to target Africa but use Zambia to target the African continent by setting up a factory in the country.”
Dr Kaseba said the high demand for laboratory and medical equipment in Africa and Zambia in particular should necessitate the penetration of Daihan Labtech into the Zambian market.
“Zambia has steel, so you won’t go far looking for raw materials to manufacture your equipment. Come and do a feasibility study…Zambia has the best natural resources,” said Dr Kaseba.
Daihan’s managing director Bong Rye Lee, through an interpreter, promised to look into Dr Kaseba’s request for them to establish a factory in Zambia.