When President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia was making pronouncements of how he wanted his country to adopt the sustainability path, little did I know that I was soon to meet his Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Stanley Kasongo Kakubo. It happened on 9th October 2021, when the Minister came to Italy to attend to an official engagement. It was actually on the side-lines of the Italy – Africa Ministerial Conference. I was among a number of business persons who came to engage with the Minister at the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Rome, to look at possibilities of doing business with Zambia. In his delivery, Minister Kakubo was clear on that the President no longer wanted a business-as-usual approach for Zambia and to that effect, invited us to explore the possibilities in Zambia because the stage was set with the election of the New Dawn Administration.
One of the organisations I brought to the meeting came with the sustainability agenda ready to plug into Zambia’s march in that regard. In fact, the proposition was to make Zambia the sustainability hub of Africa. The organisation was the World Sustainability Organisation (WSO). Essentially, the WSO would provide third party certification for Zambian and other African products which would add value and make them more visible and preferred in premium paying markets of the international scene. Of course, to attain certification, products are expected to have been arrived at through processes that would qualify them for such certification.
Fast forward to September, 2022, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) in conjunction with the Zambia Export Development Fund (ZEDF)chalk the MoU with the WSO that has now given effect to that aspiration being realised. Thanks to government support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation through its Embassy in Rome, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry through the ZDA and ZEDF, the Ministry of Green Economy and Environment and the Ministry of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.
Today, as the WSO prepares to set up its office in Zambia, industry in Zambia is already demonstrating its thirst for certification. A case in point is Country Millers Ltd, which has broken ground by being the first Zambian company to apply and pay for certification of its Mongu Rice. Its proprietor, Mr. Mukumbuta Mukumbuta, has taken heed of the clarion call made by President Hichilema in a sign that it is indeed no longer business as usual for Zambia as small and medium scale companies venture out into another dimension where they want to stand up and be counted on the international scene. Hearty congratulations go to Mr. Mukumbuta for leading the way for Zambian industry to delve into what is expected to be a future of bliss! Mukumbuta has already been making the right noises in the business circles after having his milling plant commissioned by the President as well as commissioning of His Country Lodge extension by the Litunga of Western Province.
The creation of a sustainability hub in Zambia will no doubt bring more attention to Zambia and the spin off effects are unimaginable. We at WSO are happy to be part of the transformational change that Zambia and Africa at large, so desperately need.
Story by: Silas J. Odiero