With approximately 40 per cent of Canadian companies on Fortune’s Global 500 located in Toronto, the city is the centre of the country’s economy. It has thriving manufacturing and service industries and is one of the country’s largest employment centres.
According to the Toronto Annual Employment Survey of 2010, the City provides more than 1.3 million jobs, nearly 48 per cent of which are in the Office sector.
Manufacturing accounts for 10.0 per cent of employment in the city while Institutional, Retail and Service sectors are responsible for 16.7 per cent, 10.8 per cent and 11.6 per cent respectively.
The Finance industry is of particular importance with 90 per cent of Canada’s foreign banks located there as well as numerous accounting and insurance firms, while Toronto Stock Exchange is the third largest in North America by dollar value traded.
The city is also Canada’s main centre for traditional media and is successfully developing its new media industry. It also has a thriving Information Technology (IT) sector, with one of the highest concentrations of commercial software companies anywhere in the world. It is home to Canadian headquarters and research centres of Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems.
For these reasons, the Zambia High Commission in Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Council on Africa (CCA) jointly held a Zambia-Canada Investment Forum in Toronto and Ottawa from the 27th September, 2011 until the 3rd October, 2011 respectively.
The objective of the Forum was two-fold. First to present Zambia as an attractive investment destination and secondly to market investment opportunities so as to generate interest in Canadian businessmen in undertaking due diligence for possible investment in Zambia.
Officially opening the meeting at the Marriot Hotel, Zambia’s High Commissioner to Canada, Dr. Nevers Mumba said that the Forum was part of the High Commission’s programme through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to encourage and assist the establishment of joint ventures between Canada and Zambia.
He noted that the Forum could not have come at a better time as when economic groupings such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern Africa Development Community and the East African Community (EAC) were planning to form a single block.
The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) on its part presented a sample of investment opportunities Zambia has to offer in Agriculture, Tourism, Mining, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Health, Environment, Education and Information Technology (ICT).
The presentations showed that many investment opportunities existed in Zambia and that these opportunities could provide good returns to investors.
In order to allow for further review and follow-up by interested parties, investment profiles were packaged by the ZDA and made available in hard copy, DVDs and electronic format to any interested party.
The ZDA Acting Director – Investment Promotion and Privatization, Mr. Henry Sakala at this point took advantage to explain realities of doing business in Zambia.
He noted that Zambia was named among the 10 most improved economies in the ease of doing business in the world by the World Bank in 2011 and that the country was ranked among the best five performing countries in Southern Africa.
Added Mr. Sakala,” Zambia is aggressively addressing the issue of reducing the cost of doing business in Zambia by improving infrastructure such as roads and telecommunications and in Energy and Water which are all embodied in the Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP)”.
He also pointed out that a favourable macroeconomic environment had been created by the government through the Central Bank that had led to a downward trend in the cost of borrowing to improve access to long term financing at lower rates.
Mr. Sakala told his audience that there were continuous efforts being made to streamline the licensing procedures by ensuring that only necessary licenses were issued at a reasonable cost and with minimum bureaucracy.
The Acting Director stated that there were 402 Canadian companies operating in various sectors of the Zambian economy that were currently registered with the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) and that of these, only 41 are registered with the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) holding investment certificates whose total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to date is valued at more than US$2 billion with 13,283 jobs created in various sectors.
Mr. Sakala stressed that the levels of FDI and trade between the two countries needed to be enhanced further considering the potential that exists in Zambia.
The participants from the Canadian private sector came from a vast array of sectors, including the following:
· EXPORT DEVELOPMENT CANADA (EDC), Canada’s Export Credit Agency offering finance, insurance and risk management solutions to help Canadian exporters and investors expand their international business.
· TFO-CANADA, a company that provides information, advice and contact for exporters in developing and emerging countries.
· CPCS, an international consulting firm specializing in private sector participation in the power and transport sectors
· OCRI (Ottawa Centre for Regional Innovations), a company that offers economic development services.
· MARCH NETWORKS, a company that provides high definition video surveillance
· BARRICK GOLD CORPORATION, a leading company in Gold with 26 operating mines and a pipeline of projects located across five continents. In Zambia the company is the owner of Lumwana Mine.
And from the Zambian private sector four companies participated in the Forum as follows:
· C.P ENGINEERING LTD, a Kitwe based company that specializes in Turning, milling, line Boring and Light fabrication. The Company is the largest stockiest of Bolts and Nuts.
· DAMRU ENTERPRISES LTD, manufacturers of all kinds of paints
· TEC-TRADE LTD who are suppliers of major mining spare parts to Mining companies on the Copperbelt
· PLINTH TECHNICAL WORKS LTD, a civil engineering and telecommunications company.
Keynote speaker, Barrick Gold Corporation Chairman and owner of Lumwana Mine , Mr. Peter Munk praised Zambia for fast economic growth, good governance and maintenance of peace.
Mr. Munk, whose company has invested US$7.8 billion in Zambia observed that Zambians deserved to be congratulated for providing policies that protect investors. The investment is the largest in any African country.
“Zambia is a shining example of a country in Africa and world -wide that has risen above political differences over the years to safe guard peace. We urge the new government to attract major companies that will create employment, develop the country and raise the living standards of their citizens,” he added.
Mr. Munk said his company’s entry into Zambia would send a strong message to other multi-nationals about Zambia’s positive investment climate. This, he said, would in turn open the doors for billions of dollars of new spending across the industry.
At the end of the Forum participants from Canada and their colleagues from Zambia generally agreed that there was need to expand and strengthen the already existing business relations even further.
Against a background of diplomatic relations which were established 45 years ago in 1966, Zambia and Canada enjoy good bilateral relations. Canada continues to partner with Zambia to improve business opportunities.
In August last year, the Zambia High Commission in Canada organized the first Canadian Trade Mission to Zambia on a ten day visit whose objective was to showcase the abundant business opportunities that exist in Zambia.
The overriding purpose was to identify opportunities for Zambia-Canada collaborations and projects of mutual benefit and interest, especially in developing public sector capacity.
At the end of the tour, the Canadian team had successfully signed three Memoranda of Understanding in Education with the University of Zambia (UNZA), Copperbelt University (CBU) and Mulungushi University in Kabwe.
The author Ben Kangwa is Press Secretary at the Zambia High Commission in Canada but based in Washington DC.