Report on Zambia: Becoming A Middle-income Country By 2030 Means New Opportunities For Canadian Cos

Updated: Jan 26

Donovan & Co. is in Zambia and Southern Africa building bridges between Canadian business interests and Southern Africa’s emerging commercial opportunities. Countries in Southern Africa are investing heavily in developing new agricultural products and fishery operations, among other sectors, which will not only raise the floor for African companies and employment in the region but will also provide new opportunities for Canadian companies in partnerships and import markets.

In Zambia, for example, the country is changing dramatically to create more opportunities for local enterprises in world markets. Probably best known for its agricultural products dominated by corn, the country is supporting the growth of new agricultural products, including industrial hemp and medicines derived from the female marijuana plant. The same can be said for new investments in aquafarming in country.

In 2020, the country, under new President, Hakainde Hichilema, also the richest man in Zambia, began a transformation that is occurring to empower local farmers and entrepreneurs by opening the country to new agricultural products and aquafarming operations. In that year, the country legalized for the first time the growing of industrial hemp and medicinal marijuana through licensing that allows farmers to register and switch to potentially more profitable crops. This opens Zambia to new global markets for hemp and for refined health and medical products such as CBD oil. Some 2,000 products can be made from the non-psychoactive male plant, such as panels for RVs, hempcrete for building products, feed for animals, topical oils and lotions in the beauty category, and edible products for human consumption such as hemp seeds. This sets the stage for not just export of raw hemp but also the refinement of hemp into new products that are in high demand in the West. The cost to produce refined products in Africa makes countries like Zambia well-poised for economic growth in the region with products in demand across the world, and makes the country more cost competitive than its more price-sensitive and lower-margin peers in The USA and Canada.

Zambia is also investing in new fishery operations in freshwater and in-land farms for the export of a number of varieties of fish, including the lucrative global crayfish market, especially in-demand in Asia. The government has just announced a new 10 million US dollar inland fish farm that will be completed this next year, to supplement the fisheries growth already happening in and around the country, especially in freshwater farming in the Siavonga area on Lake Kariba.

Southern Africa is known as the breadbasket of the world for its traditional agricultural products. But with corn always at the mercy of global market supply and demand, a product which in recent years has required government subsidies to be viable for the local grower, new developments in hemp growing, productizing and export opens the door for greater wealth and partnerships across borders. Corn is quite drought resistant but less so than a crop of hemp. Droughts in recent years that have decimated corn crops and farming operations, would potentially have less negative impact on a hemp crop, on its yield and profitability.

The same can be said for the lucrative, global seafoods markets, with the world’s top chefs demanding the freshest and most organic options on their tables. In the transformation into a middle-income country by 2030, Zambia, along with the rest of Southern Africa, is positioning itself as the heart of new products development in the 21st century.

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