ZAMBIA: ‘Economic Zones free for all’

GOVERNMENT has assured local and foreign investors that they will have equal opportunities to operate in any of the five Multi Facility Economic Zones (MFEZ) that will be set up in the country.


Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Felix Mutati told Parliament
in a ministerial statement yesterday that the Zambia Development Agency
(ZDA) principal Act No. 11 of 2006 did not discriminate between foreign
and local investors.

The MFEZs and industrial parks are the Chambishi, Lusaka sub zone, the
proposed Lusaka South zone, Lumwana in Northwestern Province and the
planned Ndola industrial parks.

May I take this opportunity to clarify that all investors, be it local
or foreign, have equal opportunities to invest in any of the MFEZs or
industrial parks, he said.

Mr Mutati said companies that would operate in MFEZs or industrial
parks would be required to meet a threshold of not less than US$500,000
in line with provisions of the ZDA Act.

He said any project to be set up in MFEZs would be required to
demonstrate the amount and quality of employment creation, the extent
of skills development and their transfer to local entrepreneurs and
communities.

The projects to operate in MFEZs should show the extent to which they
would lead to expansion of local production, the level of utilisation
of local raw materials and intermediate goods.

Such firms should further exhibit their ability to introduce and
transfer technology, produce new products and contribute to economic
diversification.

The degree to which the projects would be export-oriented and lead to
import substitution would also be among the benchmarks for companies to
operate in the MFEZs or industrial parks.

Mr Mutati said Government would concentrate on attracting pioneer
projects and production of commodities that were not being produced in
Zambia.

He allayed fears that firms outside the MFEZs would be negatively affected because such companies would not be displaced.

In that connection, I wish to appeal to existing companies to take
advantage of these MFEZs and expand their businesses by developing
supply linkages with both zone and non-zone enterprises, he said.

Mr Mutati said there was no difference in incentives for zone and
none-zone enterprises as long as they met the eligibility criteria and
operated in a priority sector that produced quality commodities.

He said Zambia was not the first country to implement the MFEZ concept
as a business model for accelerating industrialisation and economic
diversification by placing strong emphasis on export-oriented
production.

The minister said countries that recently developed high Gross Domestic
Product with real growth rates of above seven per cent had been
implementing the MFEZ as a business development model, with China,
India, Malaysia and Singapore recording success stories.

Mr Mutati said once fully developed, the MFEZs in Zambia would create
more than 14,000 jobs with investment flows exceeding US$2.7 billion.

Chasefu member of Parliament Chifumu Banda (FDD), asked whether or not
agricultural activities would also take place in the MFEZs since
Government's current emphasis was on economic diversification.

In responding to Mr Banda's question, Mr Mutati said all the zones would include agro-processing activities.

And during the questions for oral answers session, Minister of
Agriculture and Cooperatives Brian Chituwo told the House that any
board member of the Food Reserve Agency who was interested in its
trading activities was required to declare interest.

Dr Chituwo said such a declaration was recorded.

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