The British High Commission in Zambia said the visit, the “first trade mission from the UK to Zambia in several years”, followed a “scoping mission” in 2013 “that spurred significant interest from UK companies to further explore trade and investment opportunities”.
British high commissioner to Zambia James Thornton said the businesses involved were “an excellent mix of UK companies with expertise in delivering major infrastructure, energy, mining, water and health-related solutions”.
Thornton said the mission, which ended on 15 October, gave UK firms “a better chance to understand the business opportunities that the Zambian market offers”. “The UK is committed to support Zambia's economic growth... It is my desire and hope that this trade and investment mission will help take the existing warm UK-Zambia relationship to the next level,” Thornton said.
The trade mission was led by business consultancy British Expertise and included talks with “senior figures from across the Zambian public and private sector”, the High Commission said. Representatives from Zambia Railways Ltd, the national power utility Zesco and Zambia’s Roads Development Agency were among those taking part in the trade talks.
According to the High Commission, “Zambia is currently one of the fastest growing countries in Southern Africa with growth estimated to be around the 6% mark over the next two years”. The trade mission was “an exciting proposition for companies looking to increase their footprint on the continent”.
The mission also marked the opening of an office in Zambia by the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) agency.
UKTI said earlier this year that it was encouraging UK firms to take advantage of export opportunities to win new business emerging from Africa’s developing oil and gas industry. UKTI said it was targeting “major investment projects and smaller and shallow water fields”, with a focus on providing support to firms that have recently acquired major independent oil company assets.
A report published last April by the African Development Bank (61-page / 3.03 MB PDF) said Zambia had achieved spectacular levels of growth over the past 10 years, which had seen the country move from the ranks of least-developed countries to lower-middle-income status. However, the report said Zambia needed to pay “close attention to the quality of development, and to press ahead with structural change in its economy”.
The World Bank, which published its economic update for Zambia towards the end of 2013, said high commodity prices had induced large foreign direct investment flows, mainly in extractive industries but also in the services sector, which supports growth