By DERRICK SILIMINA
Italian companies will visit Zambia late November this year to explore business and investment opportunities.
At a recent business webinar held under the theme Doing Business in Zambia at the Italian Cultural Centre (ZICC) in Lusaka, Italian Ambassador Antonino Maggiore expressed commitment to promote bilateral ties at all levels between the two countries.
“Our engagement in fostering our bilateral relation expands into a wider area: we are in fact planning a mission of Italian companies to the Copperbelt on November 29 for a high-level business intelligence round table on the business opportunities in the field of mining, logistics and infrastructures and related services.
“Our cooperation with the Zambian mining industry goes even further. Our Embassy is facilitating the joint project on ethical mining promoted by the Italian Gemstone Association based in Rimini, Assogemme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Mines, the representatives of Zambian gemstone workers’ associations, and the private sector,” he said.
The three focal areas of intervention during the business webinar were agro-industry, energy and water management, all crucial sectors for Zambia’s economy and growth.
Ambassador Maggiore said Zambia merited the attention of Italian investors with whom local companies must be given the opportunity to interact.
The Italian envoy envisaged opportunities to develop initiatives in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of climate change vulnerability, risk assessment, adaptation and mitigation as signed by Italy and Zambia in November 2018.
The Italian embassy has consistently promoted initiatives in agriculture, agro industry and climate change interventions. Zambian delegations travelled to Italy to participate to the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Macfrut Horticultural Fair, whereas last year, due to the pandemic, a webinar was organized in November 2020.
A moderate number of Italian companies operate in the country:
- Parmalat, which unveiled an $800,000 powered milk plant in 2014;
- Brunelli Construction, which has investment in the building sector
- Enel, an energy giant that has through its subsidiary Enel Green Power (EGP) signed a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with ZESCO for 34 Megawatts;
- Ngonye Solar Power Projects being developed in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ), a project that will be owned through a Special Purpose Vehicle in which EGP will hold 80 per cent stake with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) holding a 20 per cent minority equity stake.
Enel Green Power, one of the participants at the business webinar, affirmed its commitment to boosting Zambia’s electrification while contributing to the country’s energy transition.
Enel Green Power Senior Business Developer Katchinga Phiri said with a constantly growing share of renewable energy, the company is making a decisive push in the energy transition towards a greener future.
According to the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry, bilateral relations between Italy and Zambia have strengthened as evidenced from the trade flows between the two countries depicting a positive trade balance in favour of Italy.
As of 2019, Zambia’s imports and exports to and from Italy stood at US$ 58.2 million and US$ 10.9 million respectively.
The then Commerce Trade and Industry Minister Christopher Yaluma said during the webinar that Zambia had investment opportunities in mining, agriculture, energy, tourism, infrastructure, information and communication technology and value-addition in manufacturing.
ZDA Board Chairperson Bishop David Masupa expressed pleasure with the investment in agriculture in the MFEZ, as it was one of the country’s key priority sectors.
“It is good to see the tobacco plantation and the curing of tobacco by the Golden Eagle Tobacco Corporation Limited one of the companies operating in the zone. The company recently signed an IPPA with ZDA,” he said.
Bishop Masupa reiterated Government’s desire to see the actualization of pledged investments.
ZDA recently signed the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) with Jiangxi United Limited from China relating to the operation and construction of the Chibombo MFEZ whose total investment was approximated at US$160 million.