ZAMBIA needs to widen its industrial base if the country is to reap maximum benefits from Non Traditional Exports (NTEs) that can help increase foreign exchange earnings.
Increased foreign exchange earnings through NTEs can in the long run stabilise the Kwacha which has remained vulnerable against convertible international currencies such as the United States (US) Dollar.
When this happens, the country will see a significant reduction in the prices of goods and services and eventually stabilise the economy.
There are a number of economic projects that the Government has put on the development agenda all aimed at achieving macro-economic stability.
Among such initiatives are the planned industrial clusters that will be set up in all the country’s provincial centres and these are aimed at scaling up industrial development and job creation.
With the coming on board of a parastatal holding company, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the nation expects all development projects to be implemented henceforth.
Therefore, ideas such as the one Government announced in Chipata through Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Deputy Minister, ƒthat it is ready to introduce village industries should be implemented in earnest as a catalyst to development in the outlaying areas.
According to Ms Kawandami, Government will get project proposals from subjects through traditional leaders so that village industries are set up across the country.
This ambitious idea should not just remain on paper but be implemented through the cooperation of all stakeholders including the private sector.
These are some of the economic ideas that should be supported by all and sundry, as such projects can help to add value to various raw materials and agro products.
With Chiefdoms already roped into the idea by Government, it is important for traditional rulers to come up with project proposals as suggested by the State so that such ventures can be implemented without any further delays.
The concept of village industries is one sure way of diversifying the country’s economy through value addition.
This will in addition, maximise NTEs that can help the country earn enough foreign exchange on the international market.
The country is endowed with abundant potential in mining of precious stones as in the case of Copperbelt, Central, Western and North Western provinces.
There is also potential in agro products such as citrus fruit that can be manufactured into juices, mealie- meal through maize milling, Peanut Butter and Cooking Oil through groundnuts among other projects.
Apart from that, some chiefdoms such as the Lunda-Luvale for example, can do well to implement production of handicrafts and Art that can be sold to local and international tourists.
There is a lot to lose if the village industry programme is not implemented as the success of this project will help in the creation of hundreds of jobs and help reduce the high poverty levels in the country.