Indian High Commissioner to Zambia, Ashok Kumar, says Zambia requires political will and right partners to help the country invest in the much-needed value-addition ventures to enable it achieve sustainable economic growth.
Speaking when he called on Eastern Province Minister, Malozo Sichone yesterday, Mr Kumar observed that there was economic potential in the country which had abundant natural resources.
Mr Kumar said what was required were right partners who could build the capacity of the local people in various sectors required to exploit the abundant resources.
He stated that value-addition was the key to the development of the Zambian economy and called for more investment in value-addition in all sectors of the economy.
Mr Kumar cited the agricultural and the mining sectors as some of the areas with massive potential to enhance the economy of the country.
He disclosed that India’s focus in Africa was capacity-building, saying it could help boost the agricultural and manufacturing sectors to ensure the country was in a position to process the agricultural produce if it was to get maximum profits from its investments.
“India can help build the whole chain of agriculture and manufacturing from cultivation of crops to storage and marketing of the produce. We can also train farmers in crop diversification,” he said.
Mr Kumar also revealed that India had allocated US $ 50 million for the construction of rural health posts across Zambia.
He said that 650 rural health posts would be constructed with the support from India.
The Indian High Commissioner noted that US $ 5 billion worth of concessional loans was available for Africa for various developmental programmes.
He stated US $ 50 million had already been spend on the Itezhi tezhi hydro power while US $ 40 million had been injected in the agricultural sector.
He urged Zambia to take advantage of the loan facilities being offered by his country to invest in areas that could lead to economic growth.
Mr Kumar disclosed that the loans were being given at an interest rate of 1.5 per cent, saying the repayment period was 20 years.
And Eastern Province Minister, Malozo Sichone, commended the Indian government for the support in various sectors in the development of the country.
Mr Sichone said there was need to further strengthen the already existing relationship with India which he said could lead to mutual benefits.
He noted that Zambians of Indian origin in Eastern Province continued to enjoy a good business environment.
Mr Sichone observed that those of Indian origin had contributed to the development of the economy of the province through agriculture, trade and industry.
He also noted that the Zambians of Indian origin were also supplying soft loans for entrepreneurship among local people.
Mr Shichone stressed government’s commitment in providing an enabling environment for the participation of the private sector in the growth of the economy.