One of Zambia’s leading banks has expressed optimism on the prospects of Zambia’s mining sector considering recent pronouncements at the 2022 edition of the Mining Indaba, according to an interview with Financial Insight Zambia who are covering the event.
During the 30-minute conversation with the Founder of this website, CEO Mwindwa Siakalima found his first Mining Indaba very insightful. “I found this mining indaba (following lessons from other indaba’s) very insightful”, said the CEO from the free coffee serving Standard Bank Mining Indaba Stand on 11 May 2022 in Cape Town South Africa.
Bottlenecks in Value Chain Enhancement
Through the various sessions at the Indaba, the CEO was able to identify a few bottlenecks that would need to be address to enhance value chains in the mining industry. “There are all these industries that are aligned”, that include energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing for Zambia to attain 3 million tons. “There is a bottleneck of energy. There is also a slight bottleneck around infrastructure and manufacturing”.
The CEO was quick to point out that there were some key important takeaways from the event that presented opportunities for the sector. “The stage at which we are at as a country (Zambia) is a point at which there are a number of things that need to be looked into”. Job creation and sustainable growth are among the critical issues that need to be looked into for the country to ‘drive-up’ in terms of its growth trajectory.
“From a growth perspective, mining counts for about 10 percent of our (Zambia’s) Gross Domestic Product. We know that anything you do to mining, in terms of growth, there is going to be a huge impact on the economy.” With Government’s ambitions of growing mining output from 830,000 tons to 3 million tons in the next 10 years, there will be a surge in forex income, further explained the CEO.
“What this means to us if our foreign exchange is current 70 percent coming out of mining, there is going to be a huge impact on the local economy”.
Regarding the job creation perspective, the CEO indicated that he noted that there several areas that presented opportunities for job creation. However, the opportunities would require investment in skills development. “Do we have the capacity and trained people who are artisans” are some of the issues identified that would need to be in place so that the targeted beneficiaries of the opportunities are future ready”.
Indaba Sessions Impressive
The CEO was impressed with the various sessions that took place from day one of the indaba which saw the President of Zambia make his speech. “Starting with the President’s (of Zambia) one. It was a very insightful and very focused on what the vision is.” From a vision perspective, the focus must now be on how we make it a reality.
“In terms of how the President was looking at it, there are opportunities but how do you then get value out of them.” The CEO noted that what was clear was that the mining story would not just end at extraction, but it was expected that value addition locally would be encouraged as opposed to exportation of raw materials. “We end up with a value chain that would drive a number of things such as driving growth, poverty eradication, and improving social sectors such as health and education.”
In addition, discussions around beneficiation in some of the other sessions were also very pertinent. “If we look at the Minister of Finance’s side sessions, where he was looking at local value addition, the discussions were very pertinent. They looked at how social aspects such as Corporate Social Responsibility and how to bring in the participation of the SMMEs and SMEs”. Furthermore, this session also brought out the importance of having data of what is the impact of all initiatives will have on societies and what is expected to be derived from them.
Private Public Participation
With the Government of Zambia encouraging Zambia’s private sector to come to the table through the reboot of Public Private Dialogue Forum (PPDF) there exists opportunities for private sector to come in address some of the bottlenecks exposed around infrastructure and manufacturing.
“The potential to grow will not be government doing it all alone. Government has laid the platform. It is up to the private sector through the PPDF” to come to the table and assist. As financiers, the bank will play an important role such as advisory and providing finance for initiatives.
The CEO also believes that through PPDF, many other sectors other than mining stand to benefit. “Infrastructure, logistics and agriculture, which are all areas we (the bank) participate in will need to be supported” as they are all intertwined.
On Affordable Capital
Among the other issues raised by the President of Zambia on the first day of the Indaba was the cost of capital. The bank is aware of the strides the government has made thus far and is optimistic that over the long run, this will favor cost of capital.
The CEO indicated that consumers are leaning towards cheaper capital. “It is a pertinent ask. Interest rates have been coming down slowly. You can actually see the need for that in terms of people coming to borrow and grow the real sector using finance from commercial banks”.
A lot of work is currently being done on the fiscal side. “There are a number of things happening are obviously happening that will lead to a position where capital is at a level of where we want it to be. We know that the government is working hard to get Zambia’s debt sustainability story resolved and restructured.
The financial sector in general is pleased with the level of commitment and transparency. “The steps being taken are very clear and transparent. Transparency is very important.”
Ultimately, the cost of capital will hinges on the performance of the economy and we are all active participants in bringing this cost down.
-article paragraph one and last paragraph updated