Zambia Daily Mail, April 08, 2011

THE Private Sector Development Association has urged financial institutions in the country to disburse funds to local companies so that they can add value to their products earmarked for the American market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

PSDA chairperson Yusuf Dodia said most of the local companies have financial challenges to purchase equipment needed to produce quality products for local and international markets.

Mr. DODIA said banks should help potential local companies with funds so that necessary machinery can be purchased. Currently, most of the local companies do not have necessary equipment to produce quality products.

He said in an interview in Lusaka this week that financial institutions are key partners who need to help local businesses.

“As Zambia the current AGOA chair is hosting the forum this June, we are appealing to banks to provide funds to our local companies so that they can buy machinery to produce quality goods for the AGOA market,” he said.

He said Zambia can take advantage of its chairmanship to negotiate with the American government on the need for removal of barriers which have made it difficult ofor the local products to penetrate the American market in the past decade.

He said there is also need for the private sector to be united by improving their business networking skills.

And Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International acting centre coordinator Simon Ng’ona said there’s need to develop national and sub-national level AGOA strategies that will embrace the private sector, civil society and the media.

Mr. Ng’ona said the strategies will help to determine where Zambia’s competitive and a comparative advantage lies outside mining activities.

“It should be pointed out that there are several things Zambia can do to increase investment and take better advantages of trade opportunities under the AGOA and any such initiatives,” he said.

He said as a competitor on the continent, Zambia needs to take a special interest at its market by promoting good governance and investing in people.

He said the country needs to remove trade police barriers in AGOA by developing transport infrastructure as well as improving energy and communications infrastructure through concerted efforts.