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Saturday, 2 June 2007

Foreign Ownership in Zambia

We have been discussing a lot of issues related to empowerment and foreign ownership. But what we don't really know is the extent of foreign ownership in Zambia - as in real hard data. We know what is happening to the mining sector, but how far widespread is the level of foreign ownership across the economy? How much is really owned by Zambians and foreigners across the board? A few shops at Manda Hill and Arcades may not translate in foreign dominance - or do they? It would be useful to have information in this area. I think this is crucial for a number of reasons.

  1. We need to know whether the current level of foreign ownership is significant to warrant concerns across the board (economic security concerns).

  2. We want to look at those sectors in which foreign presence is dominant, and assess the added value it has brought in terms of jobs, stability and generally contributing to our social and economic development goals.

  3. We want to compare how the sectors where Zambians are dominant already are doing relative to the sectors where Zambians aren't dominant.

  4. We also need to check these things with an eye on the "strategic sectors". For example agriculture is a strategic area because to paraphrase that wonderful author Ron Macher the smaller % of our farming population feeds the larger and hungry.

In short, we want to have a rational debate about whether foreign ownership has brought benefits in some areas or not, and crucially what we would like to happen over the long term. In the absence of Government Green and White Papers, its the citizens who should hunt down information and educate themselves. So to help towards this cause, I have dug the table above on the service sector level of ownership - courtesy of the folks at the World Bank. I got the service sector data because it was easier to do so, and also because nearly 64% of GDP is now generated by services. So its not a bad place to start. The data on services above is not comprehensive, but it is a start. The search continues for more data and also to paint a similar picture for non-services (mining and the like). If others are aware of the sectoral map, i would be interested to see the information.

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