I am honoured to join you and partake in this impressive show and exhibition today. I thank my brother, His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia, and the people of Zambia, for the warm welcome accorded to my team and me since our arrival in the historic city of Lusaka. 3 As a “Zambian” myself, I need no introduction to Lusaka, a city which evokes a multitude of memories in me. One such memory is my 12-year stint as the Director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia [UNIN].
UNIN contributed significantly to the development of some of Namibia’s finest leaders who are among the talented crop present in the political and business sphere today. Some of the people trained at the institute include our Chief Justice, Judge President, Minister of Justice, Minister of Home Affairs, the Auditor General, Prosecutor General, several Ambassadors, Permanent Secretaries, Chief Executive Officers and mid-level managers. Lusaka has transformed tremendously since my stay here.
The Lusaka of today and the Lusaka I used to know are miles apart. It is not only Lusaka that has transformed. All over the African Continent the winds of economic and social progression are blowing. That is why we are speaking of Africa as a continent that is rising, or an Africa that is on the march. Simultaneously, we are witnessing the emergence of a “New Africa”. The “New Africa” is 4 an Africa where Coups d’état are no longer tolerated. It is an Africa where leaders retire in dignity and are respected by the people. I was touched yesterday to engage at two occasions with the “Father of Africa” Comrade Kenneth Kaunda, also affectionately referred to by Namibians as KK.
The “New Africa” is also characterized by rapid development and growing trade and investment opportunities. In the “New Africa”, our Governance and Macro-Economic Architectures are in place, however, we still face deficits in our Socio-Economic architecture, and therefore need to focus on issues such as food security and job creation. It is under this atmosphere of “New Africa” that Lusaka is hosting the 90th Agricultural & Commercial Show.
The Agricultural and Commercial Society of Zambia have done a sterling job in organising this year’s show, under the theme “Managing Environment for Growth”. 5 This event plays a significant role in promoting co-operation and economic integration not only for Zambia, but for our Region and the Continent at large.
It is a prime example of a platform where local and foreign companies can showcase their products and exchange information that will lead to job creation, women and youth empowerment and increased food security. As Africa is marching towards prosperity, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development as encapsulated in Agenda 2063, the theme of this show is timely and relevant. Sustainable development can only take place if we are able to manage our environment while achieving constant growth.
This can only be achieved through rapid development of our agricultural and industrial sectors. Industrial development, including industrial agriculture should be at the core of our region’s development integration agenda as it holds the key to the diversification of our economies. 6 Industrialization will enable us to expand our productive capacity, which in turn, will help us make more efficient use of our natural resources, so that we are able to create more employment opportunities for our people. This in turn will enable us to effectively tackle the scourge of poverty and hunger by setting our economies on a more sustainable and inclusive growth path.
For Africa to catch up to the developed world, we need to leap frog. The general consensus by economists is that in agriculture, there are three stages of development, namely: subsistence farming; mixed or diversified farming; and specialized commercial farming. We must ensure that our agricultural sectors rapidly move towards the third stage of agricultural development. Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but it is the only riches a Nation can call her own. Both in Zambia and Namibia, the majority of our people derive their livelihood from subsistence farming.
Therefore, by developing our agriculture sectors, we will 7 be able to provide our people with an opportunity to pursue a better life and riches; riches that our people can own and call their own. Agriculture offers opportunities, which other sectors do not. For example, our countries are endowed with mineral resources but do our people have ownership of these resources? Most of them have not even seen these resources and do not have the means to mine, process and sell them.
That is why we create conducive business environments in order to attract investors who have the knowledge and capital to mine for minerals. Our benefit is the tax revenue, knowledge transfer and other positive spinoffs that materialize due to these investments. However, in the agricultural sector, we can initiate the direct participation of our people. Entrepreneurs and private investors have an important role to play in enabling us to achieve our developmental aspirations.
The wide representation of companies from different sectors of the economy at this show is a demonstration of the positive change that economic growth can bring to our people. Small and Medium 8 Enterprises in particular, should become actively involved in the mainstream economies of our respective countries. The SME sector has a huge potential to create wealth, employment opportunities and contribute to social and economic development of our people.
I would like to see more regional interaction at shows such as the Agriculture and Commercial Show. We should use these platforms to foster a spirit of regional economic integration as per the objectives of SADC. Deeper integration of the economies of SADC countries will benefit all of us in several ways. Through deeper integration the constraint of our respective domestic markets will disappear. For example, Zambia no longer has a market size of 12 million, but 500 million, as per the tripartite free trade agreement. Our firms will benefit from economies of scale, leading to a reduction of unit cost and, therefore, improved competitiveness of our products. Furthermore, investment in our economies will increase which will be good for economic growth and job creation.
Lastly, integration of our economies will enable us to diversify our 9 imports and increase our exports, thereby strengthening our external position. However, for all this to happen we need to have firms that can meaningfully participate in economic integration and we must move away from the trend of exporting raw materials and begin focusing on pursuing value addition. Therefore, the expedient implementation of our industrial policies is crucial. Namibia is committed to the process of integration with our SADC neighbours. We are a Child of African and International Solidarity, whose Independence came about thanks to the support and assistance of countries such as Zambia.
It is only fitting that as we engage in the second phase of the struggle (the struggle for economic emancipation), we once again stand shoulder to shoulder, with our Zambian brothers and sisters, in fighting poverty and delivering the promise of prosperity to our people. We see the development of our economic corridors as a gateway to SADC integration and economic development. It is due to this 10 economic philosophy, that Zambia is no longer a landlocked country, but a sea linked country. Last year, I was privileged to host my brother, His Excellency Lungu in Namibia, where he was able to witness the expansion of our port at Walvis Bay, most particularly the dry port facilities that I am sure many of the companies here will utilize to export their products to the international market. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage more Zambian business people and companies to make use of the opportunity offered by the Walvis Bay – Ndola - Lubumbashi Corridor.
I would like to conclude by saying that this occasion is yet another chapter in the story of the continued strengthening of the historic relations that exist between our two countries and peoples. I am impressed by the quality and wide range of agricultural products that are on display at this Agricultural and Commercial Show. This is a clear indication that with hard work, 11 Africa can produce enough food products and ensure food security for our people and for export markets. As an integrated and united region and continent, we will be able to successfully manage our environment for growth. With these words, I now have the honour to declare the 90th Agricultural and Commercial Show officially open.