By Kelvin Kamayoyo
Zambian Economist, Scholar and BuyZed Technical Advisor, has noted that harnessing the commercial value of water and wetlands around the Zambezi River basin has great potential to promote both home-grown entrepreneurship and broadbased economic participation given the natural resource’s make up and endowment. The water and wetlands are critical in growing most of the traditional and readily available products around the Zambezi River basin such as mushrooms, bananas, onion, mangoes, fish, avocados, oranges, lemons, eggs among others.
He buttressed the thought that there was need for local entrepreneurs to begin putting national economic diversification agenda into practice especially at micro-level through engaging into business ventures that depend on what is found around the Zambezi River basin and surrounding wetlands. Kamayoyo said most local entrepreneurs today rarely pay much attention on the business lucrative nature of mushroom, honey, eggs, kapenta, chilli, lemons, tomatoes, onion, fish dry or fresh, avocados, groundnuts, mangoes, watermelon, bananas, etc and yet these products have de minimis retrospective cost when starting up a business as compared to mining activities, inter alia.
Notwithstanding the aforesaid, there is an emerging vividy trend of dry fish trading from Luangwa or Siavonga or Mongu being sold mostly in capital city of Lusaka. Additionally, we also see rice from Mongu or Nakonde, beans from Solwezi, Honey from Kabompo or Kapiri Mposhi, and mushroom from other parts of the country all being sold still in Lusaka. The reason is simple the business is viable and demand is ever growing for such products not only in Lusaka but globally owing to several reasons among them are healthy benefits to consumers.
However, the downstream market structure of this trading business is somewhat highly fragmented and unsustainable, therefore, going forwward it would be necessary to develop an aggregated market or platform where these individual traders could just be supplying to and thereafter get their appropriate sales income in good time. This will help the local traders to be motivated to expand in their business ventures and also diversify into the supply of varied product lines and transform their livelihoods for the better.
Kamayoyo said its high time local entrepreneurs around the Zambezi River basin begun to sustainably exploit both horizontal and vertical business opportunities that exist in the tourism, agriculture, aquaculture and livestock including renewable energy. Therefore, conserving the Zambezi River and its wetlands will guarantee biodiversity safety, minimise its exposure to adverse effects of climate change and become ready for climate friendly business activities thereby promoting economic inclusiveness and sustainability.
Apparently the inherent comparative advantage of the commercial value of the Zambezi River and its wetlands is anchored on its integrated value chain capabilities and fortunately weak associated sunk-costs to start up a business venture. He concluded by saying a business paradigm shift, within the context of home-grown solutions, among the local entrepreneurs is even more persuasive now when unprecedented climate change events are on the rise and seem determined to negate growth of every other economic sector.