Private Sector Development’s (PSDA) participation in the EIF process

The private sector employs a large proportion of the Zambian labour force. It provides livelihoods and a significant amount of trade emanates from the private sector. The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), a project aimed at improving the level of trade from Least Developed Countries (LDCs) such as Zambia and further integrating these LDCs into the world trading system, could not leave out private sector consultations and still hope to be effective and bring any meaningful improvements to Zambia through trade.

The main scoop of the EIF process is to promote trade and ownership through the participation of both state and non state in the process and Consumer Unity and Trust Society is currently implementing a one year capacity building project that aims at bringing the players in the trading system in Zambia closer to the EIF process. And so far CUTS has held sensitisational workshops and round meetings pegged at building capacity and gathering views that would input to the successfully implementation of EIF process.

For this reason, CUTS-Lusaka recently hosted a Private Sector Development Association (PSDA) round table meeting on the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) in Lusaka. The main objectives of the meeting were;

To share information on the current status of the implementation on the EIF in Zambia.

To discuss and develop PSDA’s position on the EIF process in Zambia

And to develop PSDA’s policy recommendations and way forward to be fed into the EIF process in Zambia thus promote ownership of the process.

It’s worth appreciating that the private sector recognizes the importance of initiatives such as the EIF evidenced from their participation.

Nonetheless as much as the EIF points out several strategies that would at least develop domestic trade and the plight of the private sector, the participants were of a view that Zambia should develop its own strategic plan for the EIF by reinforcing its domestic trade regime and promoting inter-provincial trade.

It is also worth mentioning that participants also recommended that there be a review of capacity building endeavors in relation to Zambia’s needs and with emphasis on Standards and Quality Assurance Mechanisms (SQAM) and the need to integrate domestic trade policy with its implementation and that infrastructure should be seriously considered.

Further, a recommendation that government should adequately fund its agencies such as Patents and Company Registration Office (PARO), Immigration etc to guarantee that these agencies do not duplicate costs and hinder trade by using various fees as revenue measures also come out. Some participants suggested an increase in the flow of information on trade related issues to the media so as to change its focus from politicking to developmental topics which would greatly aid efforts to reach stakeholders. There was also a call from the participants to strengthen the capacity of institutions such as Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) to facilitate the provision of better quality goods for the Zambian market as well as foreign markets of which we strongly agree.

Other concerns that arose were the need for the EIF process to consider financing of pilot projects that facilitate trade such as packaging and delivery. It was suggested that Zambia should learn product marketing strategies from other African countries so that there could be improvements in trade activities. The participants also recommended that the EIF should look at mitigating the weaknesses of Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) because much of Zambia’s trade is facilitated by ZDA.

The participants also recommended that the EIF should have a Monitoring and Evaluation process that was on going and not an on and off thing and thus provide checks and balances.

These concerns are paramount to the successful implementation of the EIF in Zambia that would promote enhanced trade. Therefore as much as the implementation process of EIF is under way it is worth considering the concerns of the private sector as they play a pivotal role in the domestic trade. CUTS-ARC will without any reservations continue engaging all the players across the country under this one year period to wide participation in the EIF process and thus contribute to the promotion of the ownership campaign.