Tanganyika has trade potential – study

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DAVIS MULENGA writes

THERE exists significant potential for Zambia to diversify exports in the broader context of efforts to open up the economy away from copper dependence, says a Dutch government funded study.

The study also predicted major investments into Port of Mpulungu  thatwould lead to substantial in Zambia’s economic fortunes.

“Based on market potential in the Great Lakes Region such as Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo coupled by infrastructure improvements in the area, this could lift Zambia’s un-exports such as cement, maize and sugar,” said Michael Fuenfzig, lead consultant on the study conducted Ecorys for the Netherlands Enterprise Agency(RVO).

Speaking during a stakeholder’s forum in Lusaka at the weekend, Fuenfzig said Zambia had huge potential to break new markets with improvements of port facilities and inland linkages, including container handling.

He noted investments in improving port facilities and fleet would strengthen the links within local, provincial, national and international supply chains by taking into account the needs of micro, small and medium enterprises, especially in labour-intensive sectors such as agribusiness.

“The existing lack of diversification implies that trade potential these areas is stifled as evidenced by large fluctuations of trade flows.

“Extending cluster-based initiatives would bolster Zambia’s efforts in promoting other sectors such as manufacturing and trading away from copper dependence,” he said.

In addition to improved port infrastructure and fleet, the study presented a raft of interventions to include greater regional cooperation, especially among Lake Tanganyika authorities and donor alignment.

Other recommendations were harmonisation of legal and regulatory framework and enhancement of market information underpinned by relevant supporting policies.

This meant taking stock of existing systems and determining ways in which they can operate more efficiently and drive job-rich policies around the lake.

On policies, the study took a dim view of inconsistencies in maize policies citing Zambia’s recent context where there short-lived uplifting of a long moratorium on grain exports.

The study also highlighted extreme disparities of under-utilisation and over-utilisation of port infrastructure and fleet in the Lake Tanganyika ports such as underperforming Bujumbura’s while others within the lake area were bursting at the seams.

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