After citizens of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the British government promised to strengthen relationships with countries across the globe – especially with traditional allies from the Commonwealth. The High Commissioner for the Republic of Zambia says his country is hopeful that this change will help boost bilateral exchanges and outlines Zambia’s many characteristics and incentives that make it stand out as the commercial destination of choice in sub-Saharan Africa
As the UK charts a new course in the wake of the Brexit referendum and seeks to strengthen its global ties, particularly with Commonwealth countries, what new opportunities do you see emerging for Zambia and Britain to work and do business together?
Although the UK is one of the major sources of FDI and investment capital for Zambia, trade between the two countries remains low. As the UK leaves the EU, I am hopeful that the UK will be more open to exports from Zambia and other Commonwealth countries. Zambia offers huge business potential in terms of manufacturing and value addition, agriculture and ago-processing, infrastructure and energy. UK companies are welcome to establish industries in Multi-Facility Economic Zones and industrial parks in Zambia to produce high-quality export products that meet UK standards. While the UK companies will make their profits, the Zambian economy will benefit from technology and skills transfer, job and wealth creation, and tax revenue for the government.
In April Britain will host the biggest summit of heads of government in its history when it invites 52 global leaders to London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she would like to use the event to “reenergise and revitalise” the Commonwealth for the 21st century. What expectations do you have for the meeting? What changes and improvements would you like to see?
I am optimistic that the 2018 CHOGM will address several issues. The first is renewing the member countries’ commitments to the values of the Commonwealth as prescribed in the Commonwealth Charter with a focus on prosperity, fairness, security and sustainability. The second is to strengthen trade and investment relations in order to leverage the so-called ‘Commonwealth advantage’ which sees transactional costs lowered by 19 percent when Commonwealth member countries trade amongst themselves. Finally, it is also key to strengthen the framework for Commonwealth citizens to engage and interact more closely. This is particularly important in addressing issues of women’s empowerment, the promotion of girls’ education, ending early and forced marriages, and in skills and opportunities for the youth who constitute more than 50 percent of our population.
What sets Zambia apart as an investment destination?
What sets apart Zambia from many sub-Saharan African countries is its political stability and the warmth of the people. Zambia is the investment destination of choice because the country offers the following: abundant natural resources and skilled manpower; peace, political stability, and the rule of law since attaining independence in 1964; no controls on: prices, interest rates, foreign exchange rates, and free repatriation of debt repayments, plus we allow 100 per cent repatriation of net profits; guarantees and security to investors with legislated rights to full and market value compensation; duty-free access to regional, wider African and the US markets under the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Free Trade Agreement, and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA); banking, financial, legal and insurance services of international standard, as well as a stock exchange; and double taxation agreements with a number of European, North American, African and Asian countries, including the UK.
What assistance and incentives does the country have in place for foreign investors?
Zambia offers a wide range of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives including allowances, exemptions and concessions for investors as follows:
Category 1: Investments of US$500,000 and above in a Multi Facility Economic Zone, industrial park, a priority sector and investment in a rural enterprise under the ZDA Act:
Category 2: Investment of not less than US$250,000 in any sector not provided for as a priority sector or product under the Act:
What final message would you like to send to investors from the UK and Commonwealth specifically looking to invest in Zambia?
Investors from the UK and Commonwealth are most welcome to invest in Zambia. The government, under the leadership of His Excellency Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, president of the Republic of Zambia, has created an investor-friendly business environment for the private sector. Further, the government is investing heavily in transport, communication and energy infrastructure development to facilitate the conducting of business in Zambia. The country has abundant land, plentiful water resources, fair weather, and is endowed with diverse mineral wealth and major tourist attractions including wildlife. It is centrally located with eight neighbouring countries, and it has duty-free market access to COMESA and SADC regions and beyond. Opportunities for investment in Zambia are unlimited and the time to invest in Zambia is now.
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