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“At 23:56 on 23rd October 1963, Zambians rose in reverence of the Union Jack, the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom, for the last time as it lowered, signifying the end of British rule in Zambia.”

― Precious Mwansa-Chisa

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Building Zambia by supporting local businesses

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When the Zambia national soccer team, Chipolopolo, are in action, cords of unity are bound together and everyone moves in unison. People put aside their differences and come together as one to support their own.

Evans Ngoma, an entrepreneur and founder of the BuyZed campaign contends that this level of support should extend to Zambian businesses and products. The BuyZed campaign aims to promote local goods and services.

‘’As BuyZed, one of our critical areas of focus is on building national pride. Pride in who we are, what we produce, what we consume, use at home, school and in our workplaces, during leisure times, our support and co-existence with each other. In short, brand Zambia. Let’s cultivate the pride we exhibit during soccer matches to grow our nation and create a better livelihood for all in it. All the sectors need our support from agriculture, manufacturing, retail, tourism and hospitality, the service sector, transport and logistics and construction,’’ Ngoma elaborated.

As it stands now, we import fruits and vegetables that can be produced locally. Retail chain shops should engage more local farmers for the supply of produce and depend less on imports. The benefits in this case would be numerous. It would contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector and the incomes of local farmers. Additionally, consumers would have more choice of products. And getting local goods to shopping outlets is a more eco-friendly endeavour; it carries a lower carbon footprint than flying goods in or transporting them by road through several countries.

During the Kaunda days, local industry was poised for growth. One remembers with nostalgia locally produced drinks such as Crush, Kwench and Tarino. The dawn of privatisation in 1991 saw the phasing out of these. There is some hope, however, for local drinks with the emergence of some brands, including the Trade Kings Appy Apple range and Californian Beverages’ Apple Max, among others.

In recent times, Zambian Breweries has supported thousands of small-scale farmers by buying their sorghum and cassava. These have been used as a raw material in the production of Eagle Beer. Thousands of small-scale farmers have benefitted.

By the end of 2018, Zambian Breweries was working with over 5,000 small-scale cassava farmers to supply ingredients for Eagle Beer production at its Ndola Brewery. Zambian Breweries also supports barley farmers, in addition to sorghum and cassava farmers. The company bought 10,500 metric tonnes of barley in 2017, supporting up to 4,000 farming households from Mkushi to Kalomo.

Zambian Breweries Agriculture Manager Chris Nicolle, said: “Zambian Breweries is not merely interested in procuring raw materials, but would like to further empower our local farmers by helping them increase productivity in an efficient and environmentally sustainable manner.”

Zambia once had a growing textile industry but it is now more of a relic of the past. It has largely been replaced by cheap second hand clothing imported from outside the country and clothing from foreign retailers. A reinvigorated textile industry will offer Zambians more choice and bring new jobs.

Supporting Zambian industries can be extended to the arts, including the music, television and film industries. A thriving arts scene spurs job creation – from sound technicians to makeup artists, photographers to publicists, many careers are needed to support the industries. Countries with vibrant music scenes benefit from the revenues generated, some brought in through music tourism. As for film, one need only think of Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood; huge industries that create jobs, bring in revenue and act as a vehicle of soft power for the nations that spawned them.

The Zambian government states that value addition and industrialisation continues to be at the core of its diversification agenda to promote broad-based and inclusive growth. To this end, the government has partnered with the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) to implement the ‘Proudly Zambian’ Campaign.

As President Lungu noted in his Application of National Values and Principles speech delivered to the third Session of the twelfth National Assembly:

“If we, as Zambians, do not stand proud and support products from our own natural resources, who will? Who will consume the products from our local producers? Who will stimulate our industries to grow and create the much-needed jobs? It is only ourselves. Therefore, think local first.”

As Zambia celebrates 55 years of independence, what we need as a country is a mindset change, which begins with discussion and analysis and is followed by action. Having said all this, the onus is not only on consumers. Government must provide a business environment that allows Zambian companies to thrive. Local businesses must ensure they provide goods and services of the highest quality in order to stay relevant and measure up with competition from outside. Only then can Zambian consumers fully embrace and elevate Zambian goods and services.

Box: There are numerous reasons to purchase local goods and services. It is environmentally-friendly, promotes economic growth, reduces our dependence on other countries, creates jobs and beyond the economic benefits, it is a way of expressing national pride.

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