MINISTER of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga says it is high time the world began to buy finished copper products from Zambia.
In an interview, Thursday, Mulenga said it was for this reason that Congo DR President Félix Tshisekedi’s visit was vital, so that the two countries could sign an MoU to set up industrial zones.
“How can you have a country where you produce copper but you cannot have access to it? You have to go and buy it from London Metal Exchange, your very own copper? It is unheard of. So with this, President [Hakainde Hichilema] together with his colleague in DRC, we want to make the most out of the copper. The world should come to us and buy from us the finished products. We need to industrialize. So what you are going to witness tomorrow (Friday) is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding where the DRC and Zambia are going to set up industrial zones close to each other where we are going to have realization, development and improvement into finished products,” he said.
Mulenga said President Hakainde Hichilema was keen to enhance trade between Zambia and other countries.
“In his inaugural speech, he made it very clear that he is going to set his path to economic recovery on trade and investment, that’s all. To do this, number one; is to make sure that this trade and investment; the Zambian people are incorporated in what we are doing. Number two; we should do it with our neighbours, and number three it should be done within the African region. That’s when we can externalize now our sources for trade and investment, that is to supplement what we are doing within the country. Now, look at what the President has done. Most of the Presidents you have seen in the past in this country; you would see them want to associate themselves with the West but what he has done the first trip he made out of this country here in Africa was to the DRC,” he said.
“There have always been Zambians talking about DRC having potential but we have never realised its potential for over 50 years. But this President said, in the DRC there is a good market available for Zambia to give them our farming products among many other things. The first step that I did with authorisation from the President was to meet my Congolese counterpart in the DRC side to see how we can enhance border operations in Kasumbalesa so that we can enhance trade between the two countries. People talk but they act less, but we are changing the narrative.”
Meanwhile, Mulenga said he found marketing Zambia to the outside world an easy job, despite a few challenges from the opposition who wanted to paint the government black.
“I have not found it difficult, I’m doing it with a passion. As Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, the chief marketing officer I have is the President. This is a man that is coming from the private sector who has been doing this almost half of his life. I am drawing a lot of lessons out of him and it is exciting. So it is not difficult for me, it is easy because I have a good mentor in my President. Other than marketing the country with pleasure, I’m learning,” said Mulenga.
“There are few little challenges but we are overcoming them together. Challenges like making everybody understand that we mean well for the country. It’s not about Chipoka but for the entire country. Challenges like we are not being partisan. When they are doing this, we are being nationalists. We have got the opposition who want to paint black. When we make a trip they are saying we are using government resources in a wrong way. But we are not like those who used resources and never brought results.”