INVESTORS ARE STREAMING BACK INTO ZAMBIA
We have been quiet for a while. Not for any other reason than having been very busy. I spent the last two days at the ICA – Impact Capital Africa – conference in Lusaka. It was a buzzing event, full of energy and excitement. I thought it would make sense to get a few thoughts out around the event to you and have been encouraged to do so by a few people telling me that they missed our blogs.
The crowd was mixed. From investors to investees, the enablers and the development communities, the whole ecosystem was present. Two hundred people plus from all over the country. Many different sectors were represented and contributed to the conference.
The atmosphere was upbeat. I had the feeling that everyone wants to get things done. It is a clear shift away from the “wait and see approach” to the more proactive “what can be done now” attitude. I have been asked many times from participants that travelled in from abroad “how Zambia has changed in the last three years?”, which was when the last in-person conference was held. My answer to this is that we are in a much stronger position after Covid, with the government default finally being addressed properly and with having more clarity on the economic and political front. What we do need though is a job-creating catalyst, given that there are half a million young people joining the job market every year. Everyone agreed that this is an absolute priority but a huge uphill task.
It was an impact event and what I did like is that impact was not necessarily the starting point. I think there was a shift from previous events. Most, if not all participants I interacted with stated that it is just as cardinal if not more important to build strong and sustainable companies before spiralling into impact measurements and getting all the sustainability goals right. Impact can follow later. It was very much a “let’s get things done first and optimise later” standpoint, which, in my view, will create more sustainable businesses and more impact in the longer term.
In one of the round tables on “nurturing, train and retain talent”, which I hosted, there were discussions around Zambia being hesitant when it comes to attracting talent from abroad, especially in the tech space. This is certainly the view from international investors, Zambians don’t necessarily agree with this. The fear of foreigners pinching jobs from locals is evident. Being a member of the former group, I do agree that the country should bring in the best minds possible and have them participate in the build-up of companies and projects and then become mentors, coaches and teachers that share their knowledge and skill with local talent.
As I’m not a journalist and have to get back to work, let me wrap-up here. Thanks to the ICA team for getting the community together again, letting us exchange thoughts and ideas, as well as talk about business and opportunities. Let that positive energy continue. I hope to see many deals materialising and many jobs being created.
We shall be back soon, covering more specific topics.
All the best