ZAMBIAN companies must take up the challenge issued by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) to produce more local products to compete on the international market.
This of course should be after the products have been tested and certified by ZABS.
Economists are agreed on one point that for Zambia to come out of her economic doldrums, she must produce goods for export to earn foreign exchange.
This is the point that ZABS Executive Director, Manuel Mutale stressed, that for industrialization to thrive in the country, local products must compete favourably on the international market.
Mr Mutale said industrialization was an anchor of national development and for local products to meet both local and international standards, products must be tested and certified by ZABS.
It is a fact that unless Zambian business entities up their game, particularly in relation to foreign trade, the Kwacha will remain weak. The country must export for the economy to thrive.
ZABS is therefore in pole position to help Zambian manufacturers enter the export market by ensuring that their products meet international standards.
The Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) that President Edgar Lungu launched at the end of last year holds great promise if it is implemented.
But as Mr Mutale noted, with the operationalisation of the African continental free trade area, Zambia should explore the international market, especially that the local market has been satisfied.
“The goods that we produce should not only meet the local standards but also international. That is why we are going round the provinces to engage the business community, particularly the small and medium entrepreneurs,” Mr Mutale said when he met North-Western Province Permanent Secretary, Willies Mangimela in Solwezi.
While in the past Zambia regarded her geographical position of being landlocked as a barrier, the thinking has changed, that it is actually a blessing.
It means that the country has a ready market for her products in eight neighbouring countries that she shares her borders with. Of these, Congo DR has always been the most promising for agricultural produce.
Private Sector Development chairperson Yusuf Dodia said at the weekend that the economy which was dwindling can only survive when the country was exporting more thereby earning enough foreign exchange.
Mr Dodia rightly noted that if the trend continued then the economy would negatively be impacted, and the cost of living would continue rising.
ZABS must therefore be more pro-active in pushing Zambian companies into the export market by ensuring that they conform to acceptable international standards and earn the country the elusive foreign exchange.
The onus is on Zambians to turn around the economy even as the government seeks external support from the International Monetary Fund and other cooperating partners.