Friday, April 18, 2008
By Chibaula Silwamba
Friday April 18, 2008 [04:00]
EUROPEAN Commission head of delegation in Zambia Dr Derek Fee has said Zambian entrepreneurs supported by the EU-funded Export Development Programme (EDP II) have generated 25 million Euros (about K137.5 billion) in export earnings. Speaking at the hand over of EU funded Export Development Programme (EDP II) assets to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) in Lusaka on Wednesday, Dr Fee said the EDP II, in its five-year existence, had created employment for over 3,000 persons.
“During its five years, EDP II provided assistance in form of loans, grants and technical assistance to a total of 28 producer associations who have expanded market knowledge and contacts, expanded exports, increased employment, created income and improved access to capital and finance,” Dr Fee noted.
He said the European Commission support to non-traditional exports started in 1993, with the first Export Development Programme (EDP I) that assisted producer associations in some few sectors.
“EDP II activities were based on three pillars: the first one was the export financing facility that provided credit and grants to exporters through their respective producer associations. In January 2008, the fund was handed over to ZDA, which is managing it now under the name of Zambia Export Development Fund (ZEDEF),” he said.
Dr Fee said the EDP II’s support was meant to make the Export Board of Zambia (EBZ) a "world class" exports promotion agency. EBZ merged with the Zambia Investment Centre to form the current ZDA. He said the European Commission was proud to have contributed to the birth of the ZDA and to be associated with its operations.
“Indeed, we think that a fully operational ZDA in line with the international best practices is a key element in creating an enabling environment for private sector development. Obviously, government's commitment will be crucial to achieve this,” he said. However, Dr Fee said the hand over of assets was not the end of European Commission's involvement with ZDA, nor with the export industry.