The one most important thing that Zambians can learn from the Chinese investment team currently visiting Zambia is the ability to add value to commodities.
It only when we add value to our raw materials and commodities that the country will realise the full potential the country enjoys.
There is no doubt that for companies that are exporting products and services the devaluation of the Kwacha has come as a blessing as they are earning more than the value they bargained for.
Those most affected by devaluation are import oriented companies that must now fork out more money to purchase finished products from overseas.
China has established itself as one such country that has been able to able raw materials for conversion into finished products that Zambia among other countries must import.
China has over the years mastered the great art of converting commodities into high quality finished products which have gained markets in all parts of the world. China is one of the largest consumers of Zambian copper which they convert into finished products that are used in the domestic and international economy.
By adding value to commodities the Chinese have established themselves as the No.1 economic power overtaking the United States of America in exports.
It is an amazing feat that China has transformed from a closed, centrally planned system to a more market-oriented one with the spectacular attainment of becoming the world’s largest exporter. Like Zambia China has moved steadily with phasing out antiquated production system by embracing technology in agriculture and manufacturing sector. This has also demanded the liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, creation of a diversified banking system, development of stock markets, rapid growth of the private sector, and opening to foreign trade and investment.
The transformation has not been easy and could not have been achieved without the enterprise, acumen and determination of the Chinese people.
That is why it is very important that the current Chinese delegation must be fully engaged to acquire from them the ability that they have so ably managed to develop in developing a robust, thriving and highly successful manufacturing industry.
We have the commodities but we lack the technology, expertise and machinery to convert copper and other raw materials to the finished secondary products that will help the nation earn more Dollars that the raw materials that we are presently exporting.
The US$1 billion that the Chinese are dangling as investment pledge over some years is so colossal to come to waste because by engaging in business undertakings that do not add value to our existing products.
There should be a win-win situation for the Chinese firms and Zambia where the companies would bring into the country their financial power while Zambians benefit through job opportunities and ability to learn new skills.
There should be transfer of knowledge in such business ventures so that after several years, qualified Zambians take over most of the top positions of Chinese companies.
It would be a missed opportunity for Zambians to stand aloof without seizing the opportunities in the Chinese investment.
But as we have said there should be a win-win situation for both the employees and employers.
Zambians as employees should understand labour laws an apply themselves to hard work the Chinese are known for in their countries.
The 20 high-tech manufacturing factories ranging from bicycle plants, water pump assembly line, environmental refuse disposal plant, municipal engineering and petro-chemical industries are so critical to Zambia’s development and should not fail when they are eventually set up.