THE International Financing Corporation (IFC) has a special focus for Zambia and wants the mining houses operating in the country to start driving the local economy towards its boom and effective diversification.
The IFC, which is the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group has engaged the Government and various economic stakeholders to come up with ways in which the local mining sector could create a workable platform that would boost other economic sectors and diversify the economy.
IFC vice-president Rachel Robbins said that she had spoken to Government, the mining companies and various key sector players to see that the mining sector contributed more towards the growth of the manufacturing sector and other Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Ms Robbins, who was in the country and held meetings with the key economic sectors including Government represented by Vice-President Guy Scott, said she had listened to the constraints presented by representatives of the mining sector, the SMEs, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the agriculture sector.
She said ultimately, the IFC, which has been lending to various Government-led projects, wanted to come up with a win-win situation for all sectors.
"We are trying to nurture local businesses so that they can deal with the mining sector and on our part, we are ready to offer long-term financing to raise their capacity so that the SMEs can be supplying to the mines with the goods they import. The goods, we know, have to be of a high quality," Ms Robbins said.
She said by so doing, the economy would grow with the SMEs being empowered especially that they hold the key to the sustainable growth and development of the country.
She said IFC lending to Zambia in the last two years stood at US$40 million and that this would improve in the coming years with a new special focus it was placing on Zambia.