Bernd Finke, Germany’s Ambassador to Zambia, discusses ties between the two countries.
European Times: What are your priorities in your role as ambassador?
Bernd Finke: We provide information to Germany on political, social and economic conditions here in Zambia, we foster bi-lateral relations, and we help German companies looking to do business with or invest in Zambia as well as companies and investors already active here. We also assist the Zambian government with financial policies and efforts to strengthen the rule of law, human rights and democracy. In addition, Germany supports major programmes to improve access to water and sanitation and to help set up proper infrastructure. We are also involved in programmes to foster good governance, decentralise government and bring Zambia’s government closer to people on the ground.
European Times: Why should German and other European investors target Zambia?
Bernd Finke: There is a lot of potential here and Zambia offers a number of attractions for investors, including political stability with peaceful transition of power, which is quite unique for Africa. Ethnic communities live together in harmony here, and Zambians are very welcoming to people from other countries. Overall, Zambia is in a very positive situation compared to other countries in the region.
European Times: What sectors offer the most investment potential?
Bernd Finke: Many companies have invested in the copper industry but investment possibilities in the mining sector are now limited. Over the past few months, we have seen increased interest among German investors in the Zambian agriculture sector, and a German agricultural enterprise has already achieved success here. The tourism industry also has excellent prospects. Zambia needs foreign investment in many areas, including vocational training and capacity-building.
European Times: What are the main challenges Zambia faces?
Bernd Finke: The main challenges are the ones that are still common in many parts of Africa: inadequate infrastructure, a lower degree of productivity, as well as the issue of corruption and legal security. Germany and Zambia have a very open and trustful dialogue on these issues. At the very centre of Zambia’s challenges is the continuously high poverty rate, which persists despite Zambia’s impressive growth rates and a long-term engagement of the international (donor) community in the country.
European Times: What is your personal message to potential investors and visitors?
Bernd Finke: Zambia has made impressive progress in recent years, including making the jump from a least-developed country to a low-middle-income country. There is a lot of potential here, and Zambia deserves to be recognised for everything it has accomplished so far.