Batswana entrepreneurs who want to set up shop in Zambia will find there a familiar commodity they enjoy here at home: government money disbursed through a citizen economic empowerment scheme.
Zambia participated in last week’s Global Expo at Ditshupo Hall that was organised by the Botswana International Trade Centre. On the side lines of the Expo was a series of workshops in which the Zambian Development Agency (ZDA) participated. During the question-and-answer session, a Motswana participant asked Obby Banda from the ZDA whether the Zambian government can assist entrepreneurs with finances ÔÇô much like the Botswana government does through the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA).
Banda’s response was that his government lends such assistance through the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) which was established through an act of parliament in 2006. The aim of the Commission is “to promote the empowerment of citizens that have been marginalised or disadvantaged and whose access to economic resources and development capacity has been constrained due to various factors such as race, sex, educational background, status and disability.” CEEC has anchored its programmes and activities around nine pillars of empowerment which include equity ownership and control of companies. There are three types of companies with regard to the latter: citizen-influenced, citizen-empowered and citizen-owned.
A citizen-influenced company is one in which 5 to 25 percent of equity is owned by citizens and in which citizens have significant control of the management of the company. A citizen empowerment company is one in which 25 to 50 percent of equity is owned by citizens. A citizen-owned company is one in which at least 50.1 percent of equity is owned by citizens and in which citizens have significant control of the management of the company.
According to Banda, non-citizens who partner with Zambian citizens are for purposes of this empowerment scheme, treated as citizens. And indeed the Citizens Economic Empowerment Act defines “citizen” as a citizen-owned company, a citizen-empowered company and citizen-influenced company. Without making specific reference to the CEEC, Banda told the workshop participants that Zambians are seeking international business partners. Where contact is made, ZDA provides administrative support by arranging meetings with government officials and providing market research information. Of the 10 reasons Banda gave for why entrepreneurs should come to Zambia, one was that they would be allowed unlimited repatriation of profits. Zambia’s key economic sectors are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure and energy.