Author:Nevin, Tom

Just a few years ago, Zambia would have been a poor candidate for the title of 'a model for Africa'. That has changed in a remarkably short space of time, and the country's economic future is looking sunny and prosperous. Today, Zambia is becoming known in international investment circles as 'The Best Address in Africa'.

The Sun International's latest hotel and resort development on the banks of the mighty Zambezi happens at a time when Zambia is experiencing a strong economic recovery triggered by the privatisation of its copper mining industry and the return of American and global big names in mining Anglo American and Dodge Phelps to mention just two.

Sun International predicts that its development near the Victoria Falls will have the same beneficial effect on Zambia's economy as those in other countries where the group has established its leisure enterprises.

"The Comores, Mauritius and the Bahamas saw significant revival of their economies as a result of our developments there," Phillip Couvaras, GM Operations-Zambia, points out. "Now, in Zambia, we have formed relationships with trading partners from among the country's suppliers of every conceivable product and service that will be required by The Falls."

Couvaras believes that the indirect benefits to small business and, of course, the tourism industry itself is significant: "Our projections are that by 2002, the country's gross domestic product will have been boosted by at least 3% as a result of our presence here in Zambia."

Local economy to be stimulated

The local economy on the Zambian side of the Victoria Falls will also be stimulated by tourism spin-offs for tour-guides and tour operations, informal traders and vendors of local artworks and produce.

"Those who are benefiting most directly," says Couvaras, "are predominantly the previously unemployed people of Livingstone and the suppliers of goods and services to the hotels and resort."

As Zambia's economy continues to grow, investor confidence will increase and more dollars, pounds and yen will transform a wide spectrum of economic activity.

With just 9m people in a country the size of France, Austria, Hungary and Switzerland combined, Zambia is thinly populated in comparison with its regional neighbours and farms only 15% of its arable land. That's changing as development farmers set about transforming the veld into productive agriculture.

Besides copper and other metals, a wealth of gemstones waits to be recovered in...

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