BUSINESSperson Strive Masiyiwa says the Zambia transition is “African class” and he will be watching new President Hakainde Hichilema’s policies to decide on possible new investment in the country.
Masiyiwa owns Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Africa’s largest fibre company, which has operations in Zambia and across the continent.
“Like most Africans, I had my eyes fixed this last week on following the Zambian elections,” Masiyiwa posted online on Monday.
Hichilema defeated the incumbent, Edgar Lungu, by a landslide of more than a million votes.
“First of all, I would like to extend my congratulations to President-elect Hakainde Hichilema, his supporters, and all the people of Zambia. By any electoral precedent this is a landslide victory rarely seen these days,” Masiyiwa said.
He added: “I would also like to commend outgoing President Edgar Lungu for the manner in which he conceded the election: As I told a friend in America, it was a bit of ‘African class’.”
Liquid launched operations in Zambia in 2011 when it partnered with Zambian power company Copperbelt Energy Corporation to build Zambia’s fibre network. In 2018, Liquid acquired the remaining 50% of the company, CECLiquid.
“As a company, we have been invested in Zambia now for over 15 years, and we are there to stay for the long term. We will be watching closely for policy changes that could encourage us, and other investors to put more money in, and create more jobs,” Masiyiwa said.
Liquid has laid some 100 000 km of fibre across Africa. Last year, the company invested in a network corridor that connects Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Hichilema ran on a pro-business platform, and had the backing of large corporates operating in the country. He has pledged to fix Zambia’s debt crisis, negotiate for an International Monetary Fund bailout and protect jobs, including in the key copper mining sector, which was hit by low copper prices over recent years.
But when the celebrations die down, Hichilema, 59, a former chief executive officer at an accounting firm before entering politics, will need to focus on resuscitating a flagging economy.
Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default in November after failing to keep up with its international debt payments.
“It is in no doubt what the instruction is to all of us (that you) … elect us to office at a very difficult time,” he said, hinting at the task ahead as he addressed supporters in the capital, Lusaka “We will not let you down.”
The default was driven by depressed commodity prices — which had pushed Zambia into recession well before the Covid-19 pandemic — worsened by the pandemic itself. — NewZWire/Reuters.