FORMER Energy Minister David Mabumba says the growing competition in the petroleum sub-sector will ensure the delivery of quality petroleum products.
In an interview, Tuesday, Mabumba, however, said locals should also get involved in the petroleum sub-sector by partnering with foreigners.
“We should all celebrate if it is Zambian people investing because then they begin to benefit from the petroleum value chain. If you only allow foreign direct investment then your local people are not benefiting. But if it is Zambians partnering with foreigners, opening up all these petrol stations we are seeing, I think for me as Zambians we should be proud because these are sectors you want your local people to be involved in and make money,” he said.
“In terms of benefiting our economy, number one is that you will have more players in the subsector, there is that competition that comes in in terms of the quality of [the] product you are getting. Number two, it is also about job creation. When you look at a petrol station being opened, it’s people that will be employed. So we are generating jobs for our people and we are creating wealth for this country. The more participants you have, the more competition you have in the sector and the more quality you are expected to get.”
Mabumba said it was encouraging to see a number of fueling stations being established in the country, but wondered how many of the businesses were owned by Zambians.
“I wouldn’t want to call it mushrooming. To me when I see these things, those are the things that I preached about and I begin to say our local people are getting involved in the petroleum sub-sector. So if it is our local Zambians, you and I are supposed to begin to celebrate that yes, our local people or Zambians are getting engaged in the petroleum value chain process and this is very good. Except that for now, I don’t know whether these so many petrol stations we are seeing in the country are owned by Zambians or by foreigners,” he said.
“If they are owned by foreigners, my perspective would be that it would be important to encourage them to begin to partner with Zambians so that they also begin to pick up the skills in the petroleum sub-sector. Otherwise, I’m really proud to see them. There are so many and I just say to myself what is happening. We should be able to celebrate as Zambians.”
He said the subsector was attractive hence a number of private players moving in to invest in it.
“The sector is attractive because if the sector was not attractive you would not be able to see many people opening petrol stations across. What is important for me is that we are moving away from the big oil marketing companies. If you have looked at the investment, you don’t see much of Puma, Total, and Engine. You are seeing smaller, different names who are coming into the petroleum subsector. So to me, it does show that the environment is good for investment in the petroleum sub-sector because if the environment wasn’t too good, I’m sure people will be very reluctant to come and invest,” said Mabumba.