The mandate of the Zambian Ministry of Transport and Communications is to transform the country into a regional transportation and communications hub for the Southern African Development Countries (SADC) region. Minister Brian Mushimba and his team have made far-reaching plans for rapid development and utilisation of the country’s favourable factors such as central location, political stability, security and the rule of law.
European Times: What are the priorities of the Ministry of Transport and Communications?
Brian Mushimba: Our primary objective is making the transport sub-sectors more efficient and ensuring that communication is available, affordable and accessible even in the most remote parts of the country. We have invested heavily in all forms of transportation so that we can open our country. This year, we are focusing on opening waterways and utilize the capacity of the largest bodies of water. When it comes to rail infrastructure, we plan to continue our projects of linking Zambia to the region, and we will also continue injecting capital into the existing rail lines. In the aviation sector, we want to keep making progress in the construction of the new airports, and we also intend to secure funding for Mfuwe International Airport and Kasaba Bay. We have a National Master Plan with a 40-year outlook, which takes into account population growth projections and developing industries, aiming to anticipate and model a progressive vision of the future.
European Times: What steps are you taking in reforming the communication sector?
Brian Mushimba: We remain dedicated to providing the universal access to networks, Internet and ICT across the country because we want our people to have full e-access to the world. The future of this country is e-commerce, starting from e-government to e-services and, therefore, we need to have the infrastructure to take mobile services and smartphones to rural areas. We are rolling out phase for setting up bigger and stronger towers with better signals, targeting mostly rural areas. Upon the successful completion of this project, we will have up to 92% of coverage. We are also focusing on reforms to incentivize investment and create more competition, including cyber law, cyber-crime law, data management law and an electronic commerce law, which will be implemented to create a favourable environment for e-services. Lastly, we are working to allow other players into the telecommunication sector, which will create more competition, the quality of services will improve, and costs will decrease.
European Times: Where do you see the transport and communication sector in the next period?
Brian Mushimba: I see a Zambia with more roads, more efficient rail lines and viable water transportation. I see communication being accessible and affordable to many people. I see a country that has efficient transport and communication systems which support businesses and bring growth and modernization.
European Times: What makes Zambia attractive for foreign investments?
Brian Mushimba: The most important thing investors look for is stability. Zambia is politically and economically stable, and its policies and regulations are favourable for investors. The growing population means access to competitively priced labour and a growing market. Additionally, investors in Zambia instantly have access to the markets of nine countries. It is one the safest countries on the continent, with well-functioning police and army forces that guarantee security, with a constitution that we all respect, with a law-abiding citizenry that is kind and hospitable. We are a Government that creates opportunities for foreign investors with real incentives. Investors and tourists alike should come and explore our beautiful parks, touristic sites and exotic wildlife. They will love it!