Zambia Showcases Natural Assets to Lure Investors - Targets Wealth and Job Creation

23 Aug 2013

image A site in the Western Province, one of several recreational water bodies in Zambia/Photo: Georgina Smith

Zambia recently convened public and private sector stakeholders at the Zambia International Investment Forum to provide information on the country’s vast array of underdeveloped natural and cultural resources waiting to be explored by both local foreign investors while at the same time, marketing Zambia as one of the premier tourism destinations in Africa.

The Southern African nation offers a wealth of natural tourism assets – waterfalls, lakes and rivers holding about 35 percent of the Southern Africa’s total natural water resource, wildlife protected areas occupying about 10 percent of the country’s total land area and a tropical climate – a passport to sunshine almost throughout the year.

The event, held in Livingstone from August 20-21 at the Royal Zambezi Sun Hotel located on the fringes of the magnificent Victoria Falls, was meant to showcase the country’s rich tourism base to prospective investors and the incentives available for serious discerning investors.

The Zambia International Investment Forum was being organized by the government through the Ministries of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Tourism and Arts and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) with support from the United Nations World Tourism Organization on the theme, “Harnessing tourism opportunities for wealth and job creation.”

“The Forum has resoundingly acknowledged that we need to actualize the potential by aggressively marketing the tourism sites and for all of us to be change agents,” says Emmanuel T. Chenda, Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry said at the close of the two-day event, encouraging the private sector and potential investors to come forward and invest in a number of sites in the country.

Sylvia T. Masebo, the Minister responsible for Tourism and Arts reaffirmed the government’s commitment to engaging in strong private-public sector partnerships, which will contribute to the development of tourism sites with potential to foster the economic growth required to create jobs, raise living standards, and hasten development. “The government is committed to creating a conducive investment climate for both local and foreign investors ready to invest in Zambia’s tourism industry,” she said in an interview with journalists.

UNDP’s Country Director, Viola Morgan moderated a session on ecotourism which, among other things, featured the need for ministerial coordination and increased capacity building opportunities in the sector to empower local communities to fight against poverty and to achieve sustainable development.

Deliberations at the Forum showcased Zambia’s tourism attractions and provided prospective investors with a taste of the country’s natural beauty, diverse culture, local brands and quality wildlife experience. Recommendations that the tourism sector has great potential to contribute to wealth and job creation if harnessed properly resonated across deliberations at the forum.

There are signs of growing interest on the part of national and international investors in Zambia’s tourism sector which has a potential to be a major contributor to socioeconomic development as an important source of jobs, prosperity and competitiveness, particularly in rural areas.

By any measure, Zambia has succeeded in the last few years. Growth in Real DGP accelerated to 7.3 percent in 2012 from 6.8 percent recorded in 2011, while inflation declined to an annual average of 6.5 percent in 2012 from 8.7 percent in 2011.

Despite marked improvement in economic performance, the country has yet to achieve significant gains in social and human development. The poverty headcount remains high, with about 60 percent of the population still living below the poverty line. Corresponding increase in job creation and progress on poverty reduction and further progress in tackling HIV/AIDS could spew significant socioeconomic development in Zambia.