Michael Tome Business Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN companies in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and mining supplies sectors have been encouraged to take advantage of opportunities in the vast Zambian market.
This was revealed by ZimTrade chief executive Allen Majuru while presenting Zambia market survey findings in the capital yesterday.
The market survey explores the aspects and characteristics of the Zambian market as well as identifying opportunities for engagement partnerships, specifically in Lusaka and the Copperbelt area.
According to statistics from Zimstats, Zimbabwe accounts for less than 5 percent of Zambia’s total import bill, despite the proximity.
In 2018 Zimbabwe exported products worth US$66 million against imports of US$177 million leading to a trade deficit of US$111 million.
Zambia is amongst the top five export markets for Zimbabwean products.
Zimbabwe’s major exports to Zambia in 2018 were mainly composed of fish, tea, unmanufactured tobacco, cement, cane sugar, among others.
Addressing participants at the event, Mr Majuru indicated that Zimbabwe was favourably situated to benefit from Zambia’s economic growth considering its proximity to the country, unlike in the current scenario where the northern neighbour is getting its supplies from distant countries yet Zimbabwe had the capacity to fulfil some of Zambia’s imports.
Mr Majuru said, “ZimTrade has identified Zambia as one of the markets with potential for Zimbabwean products and services. With a population of 17 million and a GDP per Capita of US$1 552, there is potential for Zimbabwe to grow its exports from the current US$67 million.
“Zimbabwe and Zambia have cordial trade and economic relations and Zimbabwean companies should take advantage of that benefit from the growth of the Zambian economy.”
Presenting findings on the mining sector ZimTrade’s manager Market Information, Ms Annie Bake, said Zambia’s mining sector is getting its supplies from South Africa and beyond the continent, particularly in China, an area in which Zimbabwe could tap into.
“Very limited suppliers manufacture within Zambia, most listed vendors import products from South Africa, China and India while Chinese-owned mines procure most supplies from China and Dubai.
“Products with vast potential for the Zambian market include capital plant equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), services, office supplies, mechanical consumables, spares and educational supplies (for mine schools),” said Ms Bake.
Some of the required consumables include electrical equipment, transformers, electric motors, cables, lighting, batteries, ventilation fans and general electrical consumables.
Bearing testimony of their Zambian market experiences in the FMCG category were Kefalos and Associated Food Zimbabwe, which have made strong headways into the country and are now selling in major wholesale and retail outlets including Shoprite and Pick n Pay.
Other local brands that made inroads into the Zambian market for some time include Mazoe and Buttercup Margarine.
Zambia is strategically positioned as a gateway into the central African markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic, and is one of the key markets in Sadc for businesses looking to increase brand awareness, generate new ideas and form new partnerships.
For 10 years up to 2014, Zambia was one of the world’s fastest growing economies with average real GDP growth around 6,7 percent per annum and a GDP per capita of US$1 635 hence making it a lower middle-income economy.
This however, slowed down during the period 2015 to 2017 as a result of falling copper prices, reduced power generation and depreciation of the Zambian Kwacha.
The country’s economy is primarily driven by mining, mainly of copper having about 6 percent of the world’s known copper reserves.
In 2018 alone, mineral exports accounted for more than 50 percent of Zambia’s exports and have conventionally been the largest contributor to the country’s total GDP.
According to the World Bank annual ratings, the country ranks number 87 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business.