The seminar was jointly hosted by the Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) and the Chinese Embassy in Zambia. The Zambia – China Infrastructure Development Cooperation Seminar was held from the 12th to the 13th of October 2017 at Taj Pamodzi Hotel under the theme “Delivering Inclusive and Sustainable Infrastructure”.
The main objective of the seminar was to assemble a wide range of key experts and stakeholders to discuss the best practices in Infrastructure Development by sharing their expertise and experiences as well as provide inputs and new insights on how Zambia can realize Infrastructure Development.
The seminar was officially opened by Hon. Ronald Chitotela Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development and closed by Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry and PMRC Board Chairman. Over 150 delegates representing Government Ministries (such as the Ministry of National Development Planning, Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and Ministry of Local Government), Government Agencies such as the Road Development Agency (RDA), Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) among others attended the seminar.
Chinese firms involved in Infrastructure Development were represented by firms such as AVIC International, China Jiangxi and Henan International. Zambian local contractors were also represented individually and by organisations such as the Zambia Association of Women in Construction, the National Association for Medium and Small Scale Contractors and the National Council for Construction.
The seminar deliberations were guided by the following topics;
Challenges and Opportunities towards Infrastructure Development in Zambia.
Conducive Policy environment required for enhancing Infrastructure Development in Zambia
Discussions on China’s experiences with Infrastructure Development and explore lessons.
Investment Pitches: Opportunities for collaboration among Chinese investors, government agencies and the local investors.
Discussing how China can work with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to promote Infrastructure Development.
Highlights of Deliberations
Panel discussions stressed the need for the Government to conduct project appraisals before carrying out major infrastructure projects so as to assess their feasibility and benefit to the community and economy as a whole.
The panel emphasised the need to strengthen and improve the use of Private Public Partnerships (PPPs) in the execution of infrastructure projects.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) was identified as a potential sector that required infrastructure development as these improvements would create business opportunities for internet and telecommunication services.
The need to enhance and improve the country’s 20% sub-contracting policy was emphasized. Implementation of the 20% sub-contracting policy must ensure that Zambian citizens are empowered and monitored to ensure the completion of projects.
The panel also noted that Infrastructure Development concentrated on roads whilst foregoing other transport sectors such as aviation, rail and water transportation that also need of Infrastructure Development.
A proposal was made to create a Sino-Zambia Chamber of Commerce to enhance business relations between Chinese and Zambian Nationals.
Calls were made to improve the policy environment to encourage the private sector to take up Infrastructure Development in tourism, energy, telecommunication and railway.
The gathering was informed that the National Council for Construction Act was under review to include inspection of sub-contracting standards. Calls were then made to improve stakeholder consultation in the process.
Submissions were made by the Zambia Disability Network to improve enforcement and ensure that the universal designs are adhered to when infrastructure is being built to ensure inclusion and accessibility for persons with disabilities.
The seminar learnt that the lack of knowledge about entry and participation in the Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZs) had hindered local investors from taking advantage of the MFEZs and Industrial parks
Further, it was also learnt that there were opportunities for the private sector to finance the utilities within the MFEZs.
The need to further review the Zambia Development Agency Act was emphasized to ensure that it included a small scale strategy that would lead to enhanced participation and partnering of local firms with Chinese firms and other foreign firms investing in infrastructure.
Zambian firms need a platform through which they can engage government on PPP investments that reflect an international level of delivery. An element of technical support to raise the standard of local private business proposals needs to be looked into.
Government needs to increase its level of consultation with professional services on what sort of infrastructure (in terms of intended end use and design) rather than just focus on engagement with contractors.
Government needs to take the lead in scoping opportunities and supporting feasibility studies that private sector can take up.
Broad based consultations in fora such as the symposium and at community level in affected areas are needed to identify infrastructure opportunities that deliver social and economic impact.
The financial sector needs to be realigned to national development needs such as the cost of finance and regulatory requirements for lending to private sector firms that want to create/explore infrastructure development opportunities.