Zambia produces a lot of high-quality products. However, most people are still inclined to buying imported products. Mainly due to two factors namely: the collapse of industry in the 1990s and the negative perception towards local goods and services.
In 1970, for instance, the manufacturing industry accounted for 15% of gross domestic product (GDP). The manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP increased rapidly reaching its peak in 1992 at 36.1%. However, due to reasons not covered by this article, Zambia decided to shift from a command economy to a free-market economy and liberalised its trade in 1994. The domestic industry collapsed almost immediately and the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP declined to approximately 10% in 1995.
The collapse of industry meant that Zambia had to rely on imports to meet consumption demand. The heavy reliance on imports ended up changing the tastes of consumers in favour of foreign products. Subsequently, it emerged that unless a product tastes like the imported product that the local consumers are accustomed to, it was deemed of inferior quality. Therefore, the basis for a quality product among the local consumers is not whether or not a product meets the standards criteria set by the Zambia Bureau of Standards, but whether or not it tastes like the imported product.
As industry continued to collapse, so did the local companies’ investments in equipment, skill and technology to produce high-quality products. Inadequate investments coupled with messages that sought to undermine consumer confidence in the credibility of local products, created a perception among local consumers that Zambian products are of inferior quality.
Therefore, in an attempt to change the consumer perception towards locally produced goods and services, the Government through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI) established the Proudly Zambian Campaign (PZC) which was launched in 2018. The Campaign is a government project under MCTI that aims to encourage the production and consumption of high quality local goods and services. The Campaign is implemented and managed by the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between MCTI and ZAM.
Membership to the Campaign is open to all sectors of the economy including public service providers. The Campaign offers a wide range of benefits to its member companies. Chief among all Campaign benefits is being part of the efforts to tell our own story as Zambian producers of high-quality goods and services and promote local products together. Telling our own story is important as it enables us to explain to the local consumer that local products are just as good or even better than imported products, compared to the distorted messages that undermine the credibility of local products.
Due to its relevance to the industrialisation and economic development agenda of Zambia, the Campaign has attracted the attention of many local producers of goods and services, senior government officials as well as the Head of State. In his address to the nation on the ‘progress made in the application of the national values and principles’ delivered to the fifth session of the twelfth National Assembly on Friday, 12th February 2021, President Lungu recognised the impact of the Proudly Zambian Campaign. The Head of State echoed that he was encouraged to see that more of Zambian products were being sold in shops and that more people were consuming local products. The President attributed this increase in consumption to efforts being made under the Proudly Zambian Campaign.
Despite the poor perception on Zambian produced goods and services, there are a lot of high-quality Zambian products on the market. The Campaign has over 500 products that have been certified by the Zambia Bureau of Standards and have met the criteria set out by other institutions like the Zambia Metrology Agency. However, the negative perception created and propagated by messages that undermine the credibility of Zambian products continue to affect the consumption of high-quality local products.
The Proudly Zambian Campaign, therefore, now seeks to improve consumer perception towards locally manufactured goods and services. As a well-meaning Zambian, support the Campaign and promote the consumption of high Proudly Zambian products. Together, let us work to promote Zambian made products. Therefore, do not be left out and, join efforts to support Proudly Zambian products. Promote local, choose local and buy local. Think Local First!