BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
THE manufacturing sector needs a new strategy and a re-think of how to sail the current turbulent economic challenges posed by Covid-19.
Tough economic times and the Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic call for different measures, says Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) Chief Executive Officer, Florence Muleya.
Ms Muleya indicated that the tough times called for increased dialogue between manufacturers and different policy making bodies.
The first step, she said, was a mapping of different threats and opportunities.
“For instance, the Covid-19 outbreak provides an opportunity for manufacturing firms to tap into local and regional value chains.
“Looking ahead, the sector needs a new strategy and a rethink of how to sail the current turbulent economic waters,” she said in an interview.
Ms Muleya stressed that manufacturers needed to raise their voices together to the Energy Regulations Board’s increased electricity and fuel prices, and illustrate the huge strain this adjustment would have on the already struggling manufacturing sector.
Similarly, she said, the call for budget proposals would require unison voices from the sector.
Ms Muleya also said 10 years before 2030, the manufacturing sector continued to perform despairingly on account of several challenges.
She said faced by threats on both internal and external fronts, the sector had still got more than 20 percentage growth points to overcome.
“Firstly, even with its abundant raw materials, the country lacks capital equipment and other inputs necessary for transforming and adding value to the raw materials.
“Secondly, the right mix between industrial, trade and tax policies are yet to be found, leaving uncertainty on the domestic economy, not excluding the manufacturing sector,” she said.
Ms Muleya also said a steady policy environment was relevant for the growth of the sector as it allowed for effective planning.
“Does this mean that manufacturing is doomed going forward? Certainly not. While, the sector may be challenged, these scales can be tipped,” she expressed optimism.