As an import dependent economy, one area we have not done well and which we wish to push and encourage, as UPND, is technology and skills transfer.
We have several times talked about foreigners doing even basic things such as driving heavy duty equipment in many sectors such as road construction, mines, and farming machinery when these could easily be done by lots of our citizens, especially youths.
In many of our recent meetings and interactions with potential investors, they equally agree that we need to do more in this area as one way of creating permanent jobs for our people and be less dependent.
One clause we lack in our importation of most items such as machinery equipment, human and animal drugs, is the clause requesting or even demanding for our professionals to be attached to the suppliers of such items for a reasonable period so that they can learn how such equipment, drugs or and other items are assembled or made with a view to setup our own factories or assembling plants and in the process create jobs.
This is our money and for us we always wonder why we cannot insist on a technology transfer clause of attaching our engineers and other professionals to parent manufacturers and factories to learn how to manufacture/assemble the same equipment under their license.
In the health sector, for example, we import a lot of drugs from many our of cooperating countries such as Indian firms and we should by now have been strongly pushing and looking for assistance to help set up a manufacturing plant for essential drugs such as for malaria, retroviral for HIV/AIDS, cough medication and many others even in the agro machinery and drugs and use our advantageous central geographical position to export to our neighbours.
We need to establish relationships that will allow us send and attach our professionals for skills and technology transfer with a view to setting up manufacturing plants through partnerships and under license as a way of diversifying our economy and provide job opportunities to majority of our youths.
We have our graduates from UNZA, CBU, Mulungushi University, Evelyn Hone College, NORTEC, and many other institutions doing science and technology programmes who we can immediately attach to manufacturing firms we import lots of items under the skills and technology transfer clause with a view to develop long-term capacity for ourselves, provide employment, and save lots of foreign exchange and in the process save the Kwacha and even strengthen it by exporting products.
As UPND, we want an economy that will to strive to move away from the easy way out, where we bring in finished products, by strengthening the manufacturing and raw materials value addition sectors, even if it means mere assembling plants under license from big firms.
We should look at the bigger picture as responsible citizens especially in leadership choices not based on ethnicity, gender or other such narrow and petty outlooks but one’s capacity to drive and develop the country.