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Seattle Times business reporter

GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa battles stereotype of Africa in chaos.

Even for a country with a relatively stable democracy and growing economy, Zambia hasn’t had much luck finding Americans willing to invest there.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said he hopes to change that by introducing more Americans to his country and fighting the stereotype of Africa as a place defined by war and chaos.

Speaking to local business leaders Monday, Mwanawasa said Zambia has become a center of peace and prosperity in the region. The country has emerged from a long period of economic decline to achieve an average annual 5 percent growth in gross domestic product for the last five years.

“It’s the first time the country is experiencing such strong positive results,” the Zambian leader said, adding that sustaining the success could bring about an economic transformation to improve the lives of ordinary people.

The landlocked country of 12 million people in southern Africa still suffers from high unemployment and crippling poverty, with about 68 percent of the population falling below the poverty line of $1 per day.

Zambia has taken a strong stance against corruption and created a foundation based on the rule of law and respect for private property, Mwanawasa said.

The country’s main industries are copper mining, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

A former British protectorate that gained independence in 1964, Zambia is encouraging more foreign direct investment and growth of the private sector to help reduce poverty.

“When you invest in Zambia, you’re putting GDP in the pockets of Zambian people,” Mwanawasa said.

Mwanawasa, 59, was in the United States for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. He traveled here at the invitation of the Seattle-based Initiative for Global Development, a national network of business leaders promoting policies to end global poverty.

He and a delegation of senior government officials and business leaders were scheduled to visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH, Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks on Monday.

Mwanawasa said he had dinner Sunday at the house of former Microsoft executive Paul Maritz, a Zimbabwe native who lives on Mercer Island.

While Zambia has had a rush of investment from China recently, attracting U.S. business has been an uphill battle.

On previous visits to the U.S., “the response hasn’t been encouraging,” Mwanawasa said.

“So far Africa has been known only for the bad news,” said Felix Mutati, Zambia’s minister of commerce. “In Africa, we’ve got problems with HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases,” he said, “but we’re not a diseased country.”

In Zambia, the Gates Foundation funds a malaria-control program run by PATH that aims to cut malaria cases by 75 percent and become a model for the rest of Africa.

Zambia has introduced incentives to encourage foreign enterprises, such as tax-free profits for the first five years and duty-free imports of capital equipment, said Mutati.

Energy, IT infrastructure, agriculture and eco-tourism are promising areas for development, he added.

“We don’t want help,” Mutati said. “We want investment. We want partnership.”

Zambia’s slide into poverty began after world copper prices fell in the 1970s. Since then, the economy has become somewhat more diversified, even as the price of copper has climbed.

The government began privatizing the copper industry in the 1990s. Copper contributed 75 percent of the GDP in 2002 but only about 45 percent last year, said Mutati.

Asked about the political and economic crisis in neighboring Zimbabwe, Mwanawasa called the situation “extremely worrying” but added that economic sanctions will not help.

He threatened to boycott a European-African summit meeting in December if Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was excluded, saying Western leaders must be willing to talk to the leader widely considered an international pariah.

The chaos in Zimbabwe has choked off tourism, diverting more visitors to Zambia to see Victoria Falls, the spectacular milewide waterfall on the border between the two countries.

With room for only about 1,500 visitors, hotels in nearby Livingstone can’t cope with the influx, Mutati said. Its tiny airport, which had just a few flights a week three years ago, has 28 flights a week now. Several new hotels are under construction.

While Chinese companies have been criticized for labor practices in Africa, overall the influx of investment from China has been a good thing, Mutati said.

Cautious Western companies have hesitated too long. “They would go on their computers and do spreadsheets about risk,” he said, while “the Chinese make a decision first.”

Chinese have invested $900 million in Zambia for two economic zones focused on copper and agricultural processing, creating 60,000 jobs.

“Now we can see the West is saying we must run to Africa because if China dominates Africa, that sphere of influence can become critical as we go forward,” Mutati said.

Zambia also needs American-style business, said Wamulume Kalabo, chairman of the Zambia Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

U.S. companies tend to hire and train local people, with English as a common language. Chinese companies tend to hire their own citizens to work in Zambia’s mines and manufacturing sites because of the difficulty of communicating.

“The local people are not seeing the benefit initially,” Kalabo said, “because very few of them are being absorbed into the system, and the main reason is the lack of communication.”

Kristi Heim: 206-464-2718 or kheim@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said it is possible that the euro could replace the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency of choice.

According to an advance copy of an interview to be published in Thursday’s edition of the German magazine Stern, Greenspan said that the dollar is still slightly ahead in its use as a reserve currency, but added that “it doesn’t have all that much of an advantage” anymore.

The euro has been soaring against the U.S. currency in recent weeks, hitting all-time high of $1.3927 last week as the dollar has fallen on turbulent market conditions stemming from the ongoing U.S. subprime crisis. The Fed meets this week and is expected to lower its benchmark interest rate from the current 5.25 percent.

Greenspan said that at the end of 2006, some 25 percent of all currency reserves held by central banks were held in euros, compared to 66 percent for the U.S. dollar.

In terms of being used as a payment for cross-border transactions, the euro is trailing the dollar only slightly with 39 percent to 43 percent.

Greenspan said the European Central Bank has become “a serious factor in the global economy.”

He said the increased usage of the euro as a reserve currency has led to a lowering of interest rates in the euro zone, which has “without any doubt contributed to the current economic growth.”

© 2007 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

By press time of the article above, the US Federal Reserve had not yet announced its intentions to cut benchmark rates by half a percentage point.

As of the time of this posting the rate stood at 4.75% bringing new surge in the markets around the world with the Dow Jones gaining over 300 points in one day … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

Market Reaction Around The World …


StarPhoenix

Interest rates decision spurs Australian stock market
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia – 1 hour ago
THE US central bank’s decision to slash interest rates for the first time in four years spurred the Australian stock market to its biggest one-day rise in a
Fed Cuts Rate Half Point, and Stock Markets Soar New York Times
Fed lowers interest rate, and stock markets soar Kansas City Star
Fed’s Rate Cut Korea Times
TheStreet.com (subscription) – San Jose Mercury News
all 2,326 news articles »


Aljazeera.net

Asia markets soar after US rate cut
Aljazeera.net, Qatar – 8 hours ago
Asian stock markets have seen strong gains, following the first cut in US interest rates for four years. Shares on Wednesday were up by more than 3 per cent
Asia Stocks Jump After Wall Street Surge Washington Post
Most Asian markets lower; Tokyo stocks fall amid renewed concern International Herald Tribune
Financials weigh on Asian stock markets Financial Times
Euro2day – Euro2day
all 393 news articles »


StarPhoenix

Toronto stocks seen rising on commodities
Reuters Canada, Canada – 3 hours ago
TORONTO (Reuters) – Toronto’s main stock market index was seen opening higher on Wednesday as the US Federal Reserve’s bigger-than-expected interest rate
Stocks surge post-Fed Globe and Mail
Toronto stocks steady ahead of Fed decision Reuters Canada
Toronto stocks steady before Fed decision Reuters Canada
Globe and Mail – The Canadian Press
all 146 news articles »


Montreal Gazette

Clash Of The Emirates
Forbes, NY – 21 hours ago
could give Nasdaq an extra-thick financial shield against the ambitions of Dubai as well as more investment in international stock markets for Qatar.
Stockholm shares close lower, but OMX up on M&A speculation – UPDATE Forbes
all 48 news articles »


Hindu

Stock markets, rupee scale record highs
Earthtimes.org – 2 hours ago
The 30-stock Bombay Stock Exchange sensitive index (Sensex) rose 653.63 points or 4.2 percent to 16322.75 at close. All the components of the index were
Markets surge on Fed Reserves rate cut buzz Business Standard
Sensex breaches 16000 mark; up 653 points at close Zee News
Sensex recovers initial losses in late morning deals Hindu
Hindu – Economic Times
all 87 news articles »

Stock Market Update – Wed Sep 19 12:00:01 EDT 2007
Reuters – 11 minutes ago
5.5% gain in the stock. The feeling that the market is getting a bit overbought on a short-term basis could invite some afternoon selling interest.

Stock Market Update – Wed Sep 19 09:45:01 EDT 2007
Reuters – 2 hours ago
COM] The stock market has started the session on an upbeat note as the good vibes from yesterday’s trading continue to be felt.

Global stock markets rally after US interest-rate cut
Belfast Telegraph, United Kingdom – 8 hours ago
Stock markets across the world are continuing to rally amid signs that the global credit crunch is starting to ease. The rally follows a decision by the US

Stock Market Update – Wed Sep 19 10:35:01 EDT 2007
Reuters – 1 hour ago
COM] Buying interest has calmed after the excited start that followed yesterday’s rate-cut rally and the huge gains in foreign markets overnight.


Capital News 9

After Fed cut, debt market problems persist
CNNMoney.com – 1 hour ago
Global stock markets cheered Tuesday after the central bank cut the target for a key short-term interest rate. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial
AP Executive Morning Briefing The Associated Press
Debt Market Looks to Fed to Restore Confidence New York Times
Wall St. awaits the other Fed guy CNNMoney.com
CNN-IBN – USA Today
all 157 news articles »

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18 September 2007

Report on economical road building in Zambia, mp3 – download audio clip
Listen to Report on economical road building in Zambia, mp3 audio clip
Report on economical road building in Zambia, ra – download audio clip
Listen to Report on economical road building in Zambia, ra audio clip

Engineers in southern Africa have developed a product called Ecobond – a non-toxic hybrid adhesive sealant for the construction of roads and buildings. Voice of America English to Africa reporter Danstan Kaunda in Lusaka, Zambia says that the new material could cut the cost of road construction in half.

The initial test project of Ecobond technology in Zambia involves the construction of a 300-kilometer stretch of road in Mpulungu, northern Zambia.

Ecobond is a combination of sawdust, paper sludge, palm fiber and other inorganic wastes chemically mixed with Urea Formaldehyde – a colorless chemical liquid. It is processed industrially on a large scale by the Pretoria-based plant Techneco, Ltd., of South Africa.  

In road construction, it’s mixed with gravel and then sprayed over the surface, before being compacted by a heavy roller, which also levels the surface. 

Kim Anderson is a Danish expert working on the project in Zambia.

He said Ecobond includes ingredients with chemical properties similar to so-called “cement” used by termites in making their mounds.  With Ecobond, the ingredients are mixed with clay.  So far, he says, the product has shown promise.

“The best proof that we have now is the [Ecobond] road that we have constructed in South Africa. It has been there of over 10 years now. There have been about over 11 million vehicles driving through there and thousands of other heavy trucks every week running on the same road [and still in good condition].” 

But the European Union says continuous research in such a technological development is needed to ensure durability in road construction before investing in it.

The EU has been supporting Zambia in various sectors such as rural development, education, health and mining. Jurgen Kettner is head of infrastructure development at the European Union:

“In the past, there were a lot of magic methods developed for making cheap and durable roads [in Africa]. They included the use of chemicals and other additional stuff, but at the end of the day, most of those [methods] turned out not to be durable of long-term structures.” 

The Ecobond roads are said to be much cheaper than conventional asphalt ones because most of the raw materials, like soil and gravel, are readily available.

Anderson said Ecobond roads are less energy-consuming than asphalt road. A main component in an asphalt road – bitmap — has to be heated before being applied to a surface:

“The good thing with the Ecobond road construction is that we do not use too much energy or oil, petrol and not even diesel like it is the case with asphalt roads. This makes it about 50 to 60 per cent cheaper. “

Ecobond was also used in making bricks for the Eastgate Shopping Mall in Harare, Zimbabwe.

So far it seems to be cheap, durable and environmentally friendly.  If it tests well in Zambia, Ecobond will also be extended to other southern African countries like Botswana and Malawi.

http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2007-09-18-voa36.cfm

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The Zambian Enterprise is not only the largest producer of copper in Africa; it also has a perfect track record to enable it to vie for a “World Class Credit” rating.

Usually referred to as “first credit” in economic terms, the rating would enable Zambia to issue international bonds and enter the elite class with incentives similar to those in developed nations.

Should this take place, Zambia whose economy currently accounts for only 1 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s $544 billion economy, would be the third country on the continent to issue such bonds.

“… if we went for a rating, we’d be able to issue a euro-kwacha bond for example … the country will probably seek its debut rating “shortly,” … there has never been a better time than this … with a buoyant economy and a good track record, I think it’s about the right time to subject ourselves to a rating,”… said the Manchester educated and one time professor of economics at the University of Zambia now Bank of Zambia Governor – Dr. Caleb Fundanga without being date specific.

The European Investment Bank, the finance arm of the European Union, in December 2006 sold 500 million pula of senior unsecured bonds, with settlement and payment in euros, the first-ever international issue in Botswana’s currency, according to Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

South Africa, the continent’s largest economy and Botswana, the nation with the highest rated debt in the continent, are the only southern African nations with foreign currency denominated bonds.

Zambia has a lot of support and may need to fully capitalize on that support if reality has to come. Out-going World Bank country manager was one of Zambia’s strongest advocates to the same.

“… Zambia is clearly one of the countries where the impact of debt relief has been massive and could be very clear,” Ohene Nyanin, the former World Bank’s country manager based in Lusaka, said in an interview. “It is a very big fiscal space that has been opened up.”’

The country’s inflation rate dropped to single digits for the first time in 30 years in April 2006 as the government moved to control spending. Zambia has also benefited from a fivefold rise in the price of copper, which accounts for 53% of the enterprise’s income.

International bonds are a certificate of debt issued by a government or corporation guaranteeing payment of the original investment plus interest by a specified future date and have the ability to increase cash inflows at an accelerated rate thereby increasing a country’s liquidity.

classy-daddy-3.gifTwo to three years ago, I introduced a bond phenomenon on Zambia Online and even suggested the issuance of bonds as a debt instrument necessary for capitalizing the New Zambia Airways as a private enterprise.

It was to be privately driven and ran; some nay sayers rose up to short the idea down but yet even today more experts are vying for a bond rating that would elevate the country’s standing as well as help grow our economy above 7% come next year.

It is highly feasible that some critics were new to the subject and saw no benefit to the Zambian Franchise at all … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

Copyrights © 2007 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.

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It is saddening to note that the Heads of States for the SADC region failed to hold Mugabe to the fire at the just ended symposium. Instead they characterized him as a champion in the fight against white supremacies.  

While it is true that whites have done some very dissolute things the world over against other races in their quest for power and wealth in the past, there have also been times when they meant well for the sake of common good, especially the Brits at least. 

Mugabe can’t hide being racial remarks as a cover-up for the British led embargo and sanctions this time around.

We actually think that the Brits of all people have been impartial in their application of justice when it comes to then Southern Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe. 

In 1965, then British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson declared sanctions against Salisbury because Ian Smith was threatening Zambian sovereignty using economic saboteur tactics. Ian Smith was worried that the moderate Kenneth Kaunda would be very instrumental in helping black Zimbabwean’s get their independence from his white minority government. 

Ian figured that if he cut off power at Kariba since he controlled the turbines and generators of the giant Kariba Dam on the Zambezi River, the Copperbelt – Zambia’s economic engine then would ground to a halt and he did.

Dr. Kaunda told the Brits he would ask the Russian for military help and Prime Minister Wilson offered help instead. He (Wilson) offered to send a token force—a squadron of R.A.F. fighters and a battalion of the Royal Scots—to the Copperbelt.

President Kaunda accepted the air protection (Zambia only had ten military aircraft of its own), but rejected the offer of troops unless they were sent directly to the dam. Not quite so funny were the new economic sanctions that Wilson slapped on then Rhodesia.

In addition to the embargo on Rhodesian tobacco and sugar (the nation’s major crops), Britain also banned imports of asbestos (a $30 million export item annualized), copper, lithium, chrome, iron, steel and meat.  

That made the embargo 95% complete. Simultaneously, Wilson ordered a halt to interest payments, dividends and pensions from Britain to Rhodesian residents, thus damming a flow of income that totaled some $25 million the previous year.

Sir Harold Wilson even outlawed Rhodesia’s bright new independence postal stamp as British postage. The Brits did all this against their own white brothers because then Ian Smith was attacking Zambia’s economic sovereignty and interests; it made world news that Time Magazine carried this as a cover story in their Friday, December 10, 1965 issue.

This white supremacy crap we are getting from Mugabe can only hold water to those without a deep understanding of history. What is needed is a consented effort to force Mugabe to do the right things for the Zimbabwean Enterprise.

(Sir Harold Wilson – Former British Prime Minister)

Mugabe needs to respect human rights, he needs to respect the tenets of democracy and he needs to do things in the interest of the common Zimbabwean. No country has ever survived by not paying attention to their own issues face on and inflation at 4500% is simply unconscionable. classy-daddy-3.gif

A few months ago, President Levy P Mwanawasa, SC. called the Zimbabwean crisis for want it was “a sinking Titanic” and the torn was right then and should be amplified now; that’s the memo this week from us at the Zambian Chronicle … thanks a trillion. 

(you can read the full article from Time Magazine in the comments column below) 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr. 

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle 

Copyrights © 2007 Zambian Chronicle.  All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc. 

Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.          

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Zambia’s total finished copper output will hit 1.2 Mt in 2009, against a previous forecast that said the country would produce 1 Mt in 2011, a senior industry official said.

Tim Henderson, the chief executive officer of Mopani Copper Mines (MCM), said production of copper would rise faster than expected because the life of the vast copper and cobalt mines had risen due to exploration and modern mining technologies.

“Copper Production has increased from 257,000 t in 2000 to over 500,000 t in 2006 (and is) projected to reach 1.2 Mt by 2009,” Henderson said late on Tuesday.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said in April the southern African country was set to double its annual copper output to 1 Mt by 2011 following discovery of new reserves.

Henderson, who was speaking in Livingstone, 480km south of Lusaka at a Zambia economic and business forum, said the southern African country would have to invest in infrastructure such as roads and energy to handle larger volumes of copper.

“Zambia is not the only country working hard to attract FDI (foreign direct investment) in mining… we should therefore not relax. Privatisation has been a great success and boosted the economy through huge investments and job creation,” he added.

Zambia’s state run copper mines were privatised starting in 1998 when Chinese investors purchased the Chambishi Copper mine.

Henderson also said Mopani had in principle agreed to renegotiate development agreements with the government, which plans to raise mineral royalties to 3.0% from 0.6% and corporate tax to 30% from 25%.

“In principle, mining companies are willing to renegotiate the agreements. Any future change in the rate of mineral royalties should be linked to copper prices,” Henderson said.

Mopani, which operates the Nkana mine, Mufurila copper mines and the Mufulira Smelter is the country’s second largest copper producer. MCM is a joint venture of Canada’s First Quantum Minerals and Glencore International AG of Switzerland.

Mwanawasa has been pushing for greater foreign investment, including Chinese, in the country’s copperbelt region in a bid to modernise ageing mines and raise exploration and production.

http://metalsplace.com/news/?a=13661

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Oleg Deripaska, born in 1968, is Russia’s youngest billionaire at age 35. Deripaska accumulated a business empire through a series of ruthless and elaborate, though technically legal, takeover raids.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, he was a 23-year-old student at Moscow State University. He soon got a job in the fledgling metals trading market. By 1994, he was chief financial officer of Aluminprodukt.

Through the company, he bought a stake in a Siberian smelter plant, beginning his ascent to the top of one of Russia’s roughest industries. Deripaska became the plant’s manager to protect it from a takeover by its former owner, who once threatened him with a grenade launcher.

Later, Deripaska waged his own revolt to take over the shares of the London-based Transworld Group, then owned by controversial multimillionaire Mikhail Chernoi. Fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich became Deripaska’s partner; in early 2000, the two created a joint venture called Russian Aluminum (RusAl).

Today, RusAl has $4 billion in annual sales and is the world’s second-largest aluminum producer. Deripaska owns 75 percent of the company. His other businesses include power stations, Russia’s largest car and commercial vehicle manufacturer, and the country’s largest insurance company.

Estimated Worth:
$1.5 billionCurrent Position:
Chairman of the board of directors, Basic Element CompanyMajor Holdings:
Russian AluminumOther Interests:
Ingosstrakh Insurance; aircraft builder Aviacor; the GAZ automobile company; several bus builders and paper and pulp interests.Political Connections:
Deripaska is married to Polina Yumashev, the daughter of former President Boris Yeltsin’s chief of staff. Deripaska’s father-in-law in turn married Yeltsin’s daughter, which makes Deripaska a grandson of Yeltsin by marriage. In the current political climate of struggles between the Kremlin and oligarchs, Russian news media speculated in July 2003 that Deripaska would be “next in line” for investigations of his business practice by the Kremlin. One of Deripaska’s deputies at Russian Aluminum, the executive in charge of contacts with state agencies, is running in the December 2003 election for the State Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian parliament) on the ticket of the center-right, ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.New Plays:
In October 2003, Deripaska bought an additional 25 percent stake of Russian Aluminum for an estimated $2 billion from fellow oligarch Roman Abramovich.Lifestyle:
For more than a year, Deripaska has flown by private jet to London every week to improve his English. Yet, unlike his fellow oligarchs, Deripaska says he has no interest in leaving Russia. In addition to his home in Moscow, Deripaska owns a country house in the wild southern region of Khakassia.

Notoriety:
In late 2000, a competitor filed a civil suit for racketeering against Deripaska and his company in a New York court, including charges of bribery, judicial corruption and armed force. The judge dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds. Deripaska was barred from travel to the United States and from entrance to the Davos economic summit in Switzerland. Deripaska has also become an outspoken opponent of Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization, clashing on the issue with U.S. ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow.

http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/moscow/deripaska.html

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It is always necessary to know who your competitors are … the Zambian Enterprise has some very serious ones when it comes to being the best destination for investment capital from around the world. 

There is limited cash flow around but unlimited competitors and so new aggressive means and ways have to be available for our Enterprise to increase its competitive advantage.  

The first thing in knowing what needs to be done is identifying those competitors, analyze their strengths and weaknesses then find a way to undercut them.

It is doggy world out there and if we have to be at the cutting edge of this competition, we have to diverse some serious strategic plans to help us achieve out objectives. 

Believe it or not our business unit at the Zambian Chronicle has identified some serious competitors; some in our own backyard while others are up north. Those in our backyard include, Mozambique whose real GDP has been growing at a rate 2% higher than ours.  

This is a serious pace especially that if you considered the fact that US and the Mexican economies were the same in terms of GDP a hundred years ago. However, the US economy was growing at a pace of 1% higher than the Mexican economy and when you factor in power of compounding, the US outpaced Mexico and the rest is history. 

Another serious competitor remains South Africa. To its merit, South Africa can’t be considered a third world nation and capital inflows continue to outpace those of the Zambian Enterprise.

The other nation in our backyard is Angola while Congo’s instability makes us a better destination despite its potential. Up north, Tunisia and Algeria are very serious contenders but for different reasons that can be copied and implemented to help us compete with them. So, here are some things we can do to increase our competitive advantage. 

Ø       Create a tax free zone; choose a province where there are less economic activities and target it as a tax free zone for the next 10 to 15 years. This could be Western, Eastern or Luapula Provinces for instance, just pick one or two. Malaysia did this at the turn of the century and today houses the world’s tallest building even before 911 happened.

Ø       Encourage remittances from nationals living abroad. One reason South Africa, Algeria and Tunisia are outpacing us is because remittances from their nationals living abroad were almost as high as FDI (foreign Direct Investment). In fact, the largest recipients of remittances last year were not the traditional South American countries, it was Sub-Saharan Africans. 

Ø       Lower taxes including VAT if necessary. Lower taxes encourage tax payers to declare more reasonable taxes and discourage tax evasion. This also helps broaden the tax base while those tax savings are easily turned into new investment ventures thereby encourage and or increasing productivity. 

Ø       Deliberate government investment into infra-structure development. One reason Zambia is more attractive is because of its political stability but its greatest disadvantage is lack of infra-structure. Government spending has a multiplier effect seven times larger than that of the private sector. 

Ø       Over 44% of our population lives in urban areas, this is a great asset when compared to Mozambique, Angola and Congo for instance. This is because it would be easier for the Zambian Enterprise to turn this human capital into a highly productive machine than our competitors. 

Our business unit at the Zambian Chronicle will continue to explore more ways as we research issues that will help our Zambian Franchise to be a shining star, because Zambia Is Greater Than Any Single One Of Us … thanks a trillion. 

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr.

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle

Copyrights © 2007 Zambian Chronicle. All rights reserved. Zambian Chronicle content may not be stored except for personal, non-commercial use. Republication and redissemination of Zambian Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Zambian Chronicle. Zambian Chronicle shall not be liable for any errors, omissions, interruptions or delays in connection with the Zambian Chronicle content or from any damages arising therefrom.

Zambian Chronicle is a wholly owned subsidiary of Microplus Holdings International, Inc.

Copyrights © 2007 Microplus Holdings Int., Inc.     

Bill Friday tries to answer that question for us … by print time of his article, Carlos was not yet considered the world’s richest man but now you know the rest is history … thanks a trillion.

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask of that old Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Slim.” – Jim Croce.

1902

A young man flees persecution in his home country and travels half way around the world to find a new home and a new way of life. How many times have we heard that one? But what if the young man was born in Lebanon? And what if the country he emigrated to wasn’t the U.S., but Mexico?Here begins the story of Carlos Slim.

Carlos Slim is the son of Julian Slim (Yusef Salim) Haddad, a Lebanese Christian (non-Muslim) who left his own country for a better (read: longer) life at the southern end of North America. Through hard work and shrewd investments – yes, Mexican investments – buying land in downtown Mexico City following the revolution of 1910, the elder Slim became a successful businessman.

And the son picked up right where his late father left off.By the age of 26, Carlos Slim had an accumulated wealth of $400,000. He had married the future mother of his six children. Armed only with a degree in civil engineering and a big pile of money (Mexico in 1936 money), he began buying things. Lots of things. Businesses. Skip ahead forty years.Carlos Slim is rich.

Sorry, I may have understated that a bit. Carlos Slim is RICH!. Ridiculously, excessively, non-stop, stinking, light your cigars with million dollar bills RICH! So rich, that his cumulative wealth is estimated somewhere between thirty billion (Forbes) to FIFTY BILLION DOLLARS (Reuters; Fortune). So rich, that in 2006, he saw his wealth increase $2.2 million per hour (Belfast Telegraph).

Although the majority of his money has come from the telecommunications industry, Slim’s holdings also include five insurance companies (valued at $1.5 billion), a Mexican retail chain (pretax annual profit, $500 million), a mining company, an auto parts manufacturing company, a bank, a tobacco company, oh, and another mining company. All told, Slim’s companies account for almost one-half of the value of the Mexican stock exchange.

And before you think Carlos Slim’s empire stops at the Mexican border, south-of-which 4 out of every 5 cell lines and 9 out of every 10 land lines are owned and operated by him, think again. Have you ever bought anything at Comp USA? The computer you’re reading this article on, maybe? You just added to the man’s not-so-slim portfolio. Designer purses? How about Saks Fifth Avenue where the slim pickins aren’t so slim? Cha-ching! He owns them both. In the time it took you to read this paragraph, Carlos Slim just made $18,000.

Now before you jump from your Comp USA computer chair and shout, “Bastardo Codicioso!” (that’s “Greedy Bastard!” en Español), hear what else this man, who one day soon will be the richest in the world, has done.

In 2006, from endowments to and through his foundations, Carlos Slim donated $1.8 billion to charitable cause including giving away 95,000 bicycles to children of poor families to ride to their schools, 70,000 pairs of eyeglasses, and scholarships to 150,000 university students.

Similar donations over the last ten years start to read like a box score. They include 66 million bikes and 10 million pairs of contact lenses.

He even donated thousands of laptop computers to students, thus providing them access to the Internet. As early as next week, Carlos Slim plans to announce a new plan to donate upwards of 10 billion more dollars over the next four years to help fund Mexican health and education programs.

Add to it the fact that Slim’s companies also employ 250,000 Mexicans.

So how come a large segment of his own people don’t trust him?

Remember the laptops? When the students accessed the Internet, whose ISP did they use?

Do you own a PC or a Mac? If you own a Mac, do you trust Bill Gates? The very fact that you can own a Mac allows you to rest a little easier even while knowing that Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. Do you like Coke? No? Well then, at least there’s Pepsi.

If you’re a Mexican citizen, Carlos Slim is Microsoft, Apple, Coke, Pepsi and GM all rolled into one. In spite of all of Slim’s charitable contributions, Mexico’s working class just doesn’t trust him.

In the last year, this distrust took the form of satire. A cartoon of Slim, depicted as a boxer lying flat on his back in the ring as he crushes a tiny opponent appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Reforma. In the drawing, telephone lines make up the ropes around the ring. Beneath the cartoon a caption reads, “Billion Dollar Baby”.

Around the same time, in a segment on the Mexican TV show, “La Verdad Sea Dicha” (“The Truth Be Told”), a mocking news anchor shoves a pie into the mouth of a papier maché effigy of Slim.

But this attitude is also found in the academic community, where many find the practice of making giant public donations a questionable cover for something else.

One professor, Denise Dresser of the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, points out, “In Mexico, the perception is that public deeds are done for personal gain.” In another interview Dresser adds that “a growing public consensus that Slim’s attempts to block competition are hurting the Mexican economy.” She goes on to say, “He wants to ward off those criticisms.”

Dresser is not alone.

George Grayson is an expert on the subject of Latin American politics. For the last 38 years he’s been a faculty member of The College of William and Mary. When interviewed by the L.A. Times on the subject of Mexico’s lack of economic competition, Grayson said, “It is still full of public and private monopolies and bottlenecks.”

In a country where the power of wealth is controlled by a relatively few tight-nit grupos, all of which together are known as “The 100 Families”, the largest monopoly by far is controlled by Carlos Slim.

Once more from Dresser. “Mexico has a dense, intricate web of connections between the government and the business class. This ends up creating a government that doesn’t defend the public interest… It is rather willing to help its friends, its allies and, in some cases, its business partners thrive at the expense of the Mexican people.”

So, what of the monopoly created by Carlos Slim? If Slim has done this much for his own people, whether some trust him or not, shouldn’t we rise from our Comp USA computer chairs and applaud?

Economists say that Mexico actually loses money due to the monopolies controlled by Slim and The 100 Families, causing Mexico’s per capita income to fall to less than $7,000, leaving the country in poverty.

Ask the 10 percent of the Mexican population that currently lives in the United States why they left home.

And why, by working for the decidedly low wages generally available to “illegals” in this country, remittances sent back to Mexico by these workers totaled a record $20 billion in 2005.

So what will it take to, once and for all, bring Mexico to a place where its own citizens will want to return? Slim himself defines his own role in the process.

“My new job,” says Carlos Slim, “is to focus on the development and employment of Latin America.”

If he means employ at a working wage commensurate with the rest of Norte America, he doesn’t say.

So what more will it take for Slim and, for that matter, the rest of the wealthiest of Mexico’s power brokers to satisfy the skepticism of the Mexican working class that distrusts him so much?

Denise Dresser calls it a wish list. One that, “every Mexican committed to his country would ask from Santa Claus.” And that is?

“The day that you (Slim) give 80 percent of your personal fortune to an unselfish cause is the day that I will become your champion.”

Oh. Is that all.

Early next week, Carlos Slim plans to unveil another expansion of his vast charitable, educational and business infrastructural plan to the world.

Will it satisfy his biggest critics?

I guess we’ll see it in the funny pages.

Copyright © 2007 Bill Friday

 

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Intra SADC trade for the fiscal year 2006 was worth $1.3 billion to the Zambian Enterprise meeting and exceeding expectations above and beyond envisioned thresholds. A phenomenal growth of well over 56.15% from the previous year of $730 million.  Intra-SADC trade needs to be even more encouraged especially that it generates such huge export parities for our enterprise; and we did all this without any help from North Korea.

This shows that what we had been talking about for years and since been enacted into law under the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Act is workable as can been seen in these results because of focusing on value-addition to locally manufactured products to create jobs and wealth. 

Under the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Act, the Government has proposed various incentives to attract investments that include zero per cent tax rate on dividends for companies operating in the priority sector and/or MFEZ under the ZDA Act for a period of five years from the year of first declaration of dividends. 

Even before the Act came into being, we focused on this at the old forums (insaka) provided for by my good friend the virtuous Chanda Chisala; strictly evaluated the pros and cons with the likes of splendid Bwana as well as brainiacs like the famous Pimbilimano. The Act was formed and the results are here for all to see … thanks a trillion.

Brainwave R Mumba, Sr. 

CEO & President – Zambian Chronicle 

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