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Investor Insight with Jason Kazilimani- Senior Partner, KPMG Zambia

This is an exciting time to invest in Zambia. Zambia has a growing economy, young workforce and investments into infrastructure that provide a foundation for sustainable development.

The economy averaged real GDP growth of 6.7% between 2008 and 2012 and the EIU forecast an increase of up to 8.1% between 2014 and 2016 when key mines and power plants under development come online.  Regional and global businesses are taking an interest in Zambia and are investing heavily in mining, energy, manufacturing, telecommunications and the service sector.

As a practice, we understand this economy and have enjoyed a proud history that dates back to 1954. Completely reinvigorated in 2011, we now employ 79 people in our Lusaka and Kitwe offices. We have set ourselves three strategic goals: the first is to achieve, and where possible surpass the high quality standards that KPMG has set globally, the second is to build meaningful and lasting relationships with our clients; and the third is to deliver the full range of audit, tax and advisory solutions that our clients need to succeed in a rapidly evolving local economy.

Investment

If I were looking for an African investment destination, my top three considerations would be political stability, the potential for growth and planned vs. actual infrastructure.

Political Stability

Zambia’s political stability is outstanding in Africa.  Since independence in 1964 we have had several peaceful elections that have ushered in five different Presidents and three ruling parties in without incident.

Potential for Growth

Zambia’s growth potential lies in its resources, people and markets.  More than half of the population is under the age of 18, so the size of the workforce and consequently the domestic markets for all goods and services is projected to grow significantly over the next 5 to 10 years.

Resources

Many of Zambia’s mineral resources are either underdeveloped or entirely untapped.  Most people know that Zambia has Africa’s largest known reserves of copper, (6% of the global resource) however, few know that a single mine in our country produces 20% the world’s emeralds. Added to this, there are unexploited and commercially viable deposits of coal, zinc, lead, manganese and gemstones deposits across the country.

With a growing population, eight neighbouring countries and access to Burundi through the port of Mpulungu, Zambia is strategically positioned to access large markets in the sub-region. Membership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have helped to reduce the barriers to trade and this trend is set to continue.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure drives development and investment opportunities.  The Zambian Government recognises this and has committed to spend US$5.3bn to tar 8201km of roads over the next five years, US$4.5bn on power generation and transmission capacity over the next four years and US$120m in rail rehabilitation over the next three.

To briefly summarise the investment attractiveness, Zambia has political stability, abundant resources, access to large markets and an infrastructure investment drive that makes it all sustainable.

Complexities and Challenges

Investors into Zambia face two main challenges, the first of those is the information that they use for decision making purposes and the second is regulatory compliance.

Decision Making

Studies into specific markets, business risks and other critical data on Zambia are limited.  According to the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), internet penetration stood at 0.71% in the year to 31 December 2012 and analysts speculate that up to three quarters of the information about investing in Zambia is prepared by people outside of Zambia.

To get around these challenges, many investors make the mistake of taking the economic indicators and using them to infer how well their business will perform. This often doesn’t work because it ignores competitive factors, infrastructure constraints, cultural perceptions and a range of other factors that contribute to the success of a business. Another common mistake is that some investors develop entire business plans or go into ventures on the basis of incorrect or outdated assumptions.  I can only encourage investors to engage with professional advisors, who can guide them where they are unsure of the integrity of the data available to them.

Regulatory Compliance

Particularly over the last two years, Government has prioritised the need for organisations in Zambia to comply with laws and regulations that relate to them.  Investors would be well advised to consult widely about regulations that affect their sector.  A further point to bear in mind is that a regulator not visiting you doesn’t necessarily mean that you are compliant.  In some instances it’s possible to operate without being compliant only to become the subject of an investigation two, three or even more years later.

Current Trends

Over the last decade, mining and energy (power generation) have seen unprecedented growth in investment however according to the Bank of Zambia, the leading contributors to GDP growth are agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

Key changes that you need to be aware of investing into Zambia are that the national power deficit that has restrained economic growth for the last five years is due to be resolved at the end of this year when key investments come online.  On the technological front, in the last two years we have seen a sharp increase in the popularity of online transactions, mobile transactions and local money transfers.  Internet penetration remains at a surprisingly low 0.71% however it doubled in the year to 2012.  Mobile phones account for 82% of internet connections in the country and as more internet enabled handsets reach end-users, this is set to rise rapidly.

In conclusion, I would say that there are two secrets to successfully investing in Zambia.  Have a well thought out and rational basis to your plans and comply with local regulations.  Merely bringing a strategic plan that worked somewhere else or doing what the next organisation is doing in terms of regulatory compliance are risky propositions.
Courtesy: Zambia Investor

Bio of Jason Kazilimani

Jason Kazilimani Jr is the Senior Partner of KPMG in Zambia, a position he’s held since December 2011.  Prior to this he was a Partner in KPMG Nigeria where he spent four years.  He has over 19 years of experience in the provision of audit and related advisory services, inclusive of a 2 year secondment as audit manager with KPMG in the United Kingdom.

He is a Fellow of the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA), Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) of the UK, Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and holds an MBA in Financial Services from the University of East London.

Have a question for Jason on investment in Zambia? Then meet him for ‘lunch’ on KPMG Lunch with Our Leaders on LinkedIn by 14:00 (CAT) on 23rd Thursday January 2014.

David Okwara
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