Africa has the youngest population of any continent – 60% are under age 25. While this has evoked both hope and fear, it is clear that jobs are needed for the 12 million people entering the workforce every year.

Agriculture is best suited to provide a great many jobs as it can absorb much labour, and because prospering farms trigger employment opportunities in the rest of the economy. But agriculture is often unattractive for the youth.

To lure young people into farming, policymakers and development actors emphasise the need for modern technology, including agricultural mechanisation. But surprisingly little is known about the opinion of young people in rural areas. Few have asked them what farming and rural areas need to look like to be more attractive.

I conducted a study in Zambia and asked people in rural areas aged between 12 and 20 what would make farming attractive for them. I used two research methods to explore their aspirations and perceptions: interviews as well as drawing exercises.

The results show that young people find more positive aspects in agriculture than often assumed and that the attractiveness of farming doesn’t only hinge on modern technologies. While some technologies are needed, having diverse and sustainable farms, a healthy environment and an attractive rural life is equally important.

The ideal farm. Provided by author

The findings

Most of the people interviewed for the study were proud of the fact that they came from farming families that owned land and worked close to the nature. Ruth (15) expanded on this and said:

We do not pay for maize, land, water and fruits such as mangoes. We have nutritious food.

The respondents also commented on the attractiveness of the rural space. Asked where they want to live in the future, rural or urban, 53% preferred rural areas, because of their freedom and social networks.

In contrast, urban life was often perceived as bad, characterised by road accidents, pollution, Satanism, thieves and drunkards. According to Talunsa (15) people are “poisoned by alcohol and fight”.

Many also found farming unattractive, citing drudgery and weather dependence as reasons. They said they would rather aim for jobs with a regular salary such as teachers. Lozi (16) said:

I want to work with the government. Then I’ll get paid monthly.

Around half of the respondents preferred a future in urban areas rather than in rural areas. These respondents were “pulled” away from rural areas because they were attracted by the perceived positive sides of urban areas. But they were also “pushed” away from rural areas which they associate with a lot of challenges. These included the high labour burden and risks associated with farming. This is what some of the respondents said about these “push” factors:

In the village, we always eat the same, beans and nshima, and we need to work hard.“ (Elina, 16)
In the village, you can be bewitched over small disputes and the fields are very small. I prefer to live in town.” (Jakob, 15).

It’s important to note that the decision to reside either in a rural or urban area was rarely perceived as a lifetime decision. Respondents highlighted that one could work in town after harvest or for some years after school to save some money before returning to the village.

Some of my friends want to go to town but others want to stay. Of the ones who went, many came back after some years. (Alik, 14)

I want to raise some money in town but then I want to move back to my village. I will bring a tractor with me and cultivate a lot of land. (Raimond, 17)

Making farming attractive

So what does farming need to look like to be attractive?

The young people provided some direction on what they thought would make rural spaces more attractive.

The most important factors were:

  • Modern technologies such as tractors and digital tools. But these shouldn’t be over emphasised. Low-tech solutions shouldn’t be neglected.

  • Non-material factors. Making agriculture attractive requires de-risking agriculture and promoting sustainable and diverse farms. These were clearly depicted in the drawings I’d asked the respondents to sketch of their ideal farm. The drawings typically showed highly diverse farms with trees, vegetables, fruits and animals.

  • Ensure healthy landscapes. Having a sustainable, pollution free environment was commonly mentioned as a key advantage of rural over urban life.

  • Rural areas must be developed in ways that go beyond just infrastructure. Social life and networks, which are still an asset in villages compared to cities, were also cited as important. This included networks of neighbours, relatives and friend and the communal celebration of traditions.

What next

Policymakers often highlight the need for modern technologies – including information, communication and technology – when discussing rural development.

But the young respondents I spoke to emphasised more low-tech solutions such as increasing farm diversity, having water wells and using draught animals, which is already an advantage over manual labour.

This suggests that policymakers and development practitioners need to pay more attention to the actual aspirations of young people in rural areas to avoid well-intended but misguided policies. In addition, the findings suggest that there is a need for several policies to reflect several types of young people in rural areas.The Conversation

 

Thomas Daum, Agricultural Economist, University of Hohenheim

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Botswana and Zambia have signed the agreement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) meant to create one African market.

The country signed the agreement at the just-ended Africa Union Summit. Zambia also signed the AfCFTA at the same event. Botswana and Zambia were among the countries that had not signed the AfCFTA following its establishment on 21 March 2018 in Rwanda, Kigali.

The delay was largely attributed to negotiation on some of the protocols of the AfCFTA, as the countries wanted to consult stakeholders before appending. Briefing journalists upon his return from the just-ended AU Summit, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi said he signed the agreement in the presence of African Union Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki, and outgoing AU chairperson, Paul Kagame.

He said the agreement would give Batswana the opportunity to “benefit from inter-regional trade within the African continent, and greatly contribute to the growth and diversification of our country’s economy.

“We have received the documents so that we can rectify the agreement,” he said.

Masisi said Botswana recognises the importance of the agreement as one that will liberalise trade of both goods and services for all African countries. The AfCFTA aims to create a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion, across all AU member states.

The Continental Free Trade Agreement would provide Botswana access to the African market estimated at 1.6 billion people in 55 countries. This means a wider and increased market access for Botswana exports; among which are live animals, beef, salt, vaccines for veterinary medicine, minerals and leather products.

Reports indicate that the AfCFTA envisages the liberalisation of both trade in goods and services in the first phase of negotiations, and will extend to investment, competition policy and intellectual property in the second phase. The decision to establish the AfCFTA was taken during the eighteenth Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2012 when the Heads of State and Government decided to establish a Pan-Africa Continental Free Trade Area by 2017.

According to Zambia News and Information Services, Zambian President Edgar Lungu said the country would now work towards ratifying the AfCFTA.

Zambia is already in wide free trade areas through the 16-member SADC and the 21-member Comesa trading blocs. But in a statement issued by the first press secretary at the Zambian mission in Addis Ababa after the signing, Inutu Mwanza said.

“The AfCFTA will help resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes.

“It will also help to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources.”

 

NAN

The bridge and one-stop-border-post facilities between Zambia and Botswana will enhance regional trade, integration and spur global competitiveness.

Scenes of traders, travelers, fishermen and women crossing the Zambezi river on floating planks, ferries, rickshaw boats, and canoes will soon come to an end. In just 24 months, travelling between the water-rich but land-locked Zambia and Botswana will get easier, smoother and faster, when the new road and rail bridge, currently under construction across the waters of the Zambezi, is commissioned for public use.

The 923-metre-long by 18.5-metre-wide masterpiece will link the town of Kazungula in Zambia with Botswana. Its location traverses the intersection of the Zambezi and Chobe rivers. At this point, four countries - Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe – meet.

The Kazungula Bridge Project will have a single-line railway track, pavement for pedestrians and international border facilities: two One-Stop Border Posts, located on Botswanan and Zambian territory. When completed, the bridge will be connected to the Mosetse-Kazungula Railway.

The project was one of several projects showcased by officials of the Kazungula Bridge Project Office during the 2018 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week.

Seeing is believing. Consequently, the conveners of the annual infrastructure summit, the African Union Commission, NEPAD and the African Development Bank, scheduled a trip to the site of the project as part of the week-long PIDA Week, held from 26-29 November 2018.

“It is obvious that once completed, the Kazungula Bridge Project will actually bridge the regional divide,” Mamady Souare, Manager for Regional Integration Operations at the Bank told the 110 participants and reporters who made the trip from Victoria Falls to Kazungula.

“The project will transform the dynamics of transportation in surrounding communities, counties and cities, boosting road travel and the ease of doing business within the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa,” Souare further remarked.

The development has been facilitated by a tripartite arrangement between Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe on the North-South Corridor within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region and is part of a corridor-long infrastructure improvement programme, to enhance regional trade and integration.

Following feasibility studies and funding approval for the nearly $260 million project by the board of the African Development Bank in 2011, construction began in 2014, after the governments of Zambia and Botswana announced a deal to build a bridge, replacing the existing Kazungula ferry service. The principal financiers of the project include the governments of Zambia and Botswana, the African Development Bank, the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund grant and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Zimbabwe was brought on board the project as a stakeholder in March 2018, after Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, Ian Khama of Botswana and Edgar Lungu of Zambia jointly inspected the progress of the multi-million-dollar project.

Also addressing media in Kazungula, Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Agency said: “Progress is not only visible on the Kazungula Bridge Project, but this project is proof of the consensus and focus on infrastructure development amongst regional and continental stakeholders and credit must be given to PIDA for this…”

As of October 2018, the project had created about 1,485 new jobs including employment for 118 women.

From a policy perspective, the Kazungula Bridge Project leverages the African Development Bank’s Industrialization Strategy for Africa (2016 - 2025). It also aligns with several programs and strategies put in place by regional and continental bodies to improve infrastructure as an anchor for sustainable transformation. These include: the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan; the Revised SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015 - 2020; the Tripartite Trade and Transport Facilitation Programme; the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Short-Term Action Plan, and PIDA.

As the first wave of vehicles and pedestrians begin to use the new bridge, the regional economy will receive a much-needed boost through increased traffic throughout the North-South Corridor, a key trade route linking the port of Durban in South Africa to Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, DR Congo, and up to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.

The facility will effectively serve as a gateway for goods from landlocked Zambia and Botswana to the afore listed countries straddling the North-South Corridor, a geographical zone of about 279 million people, larger than the populations of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain combined.

When completed, the bridge and one-stop-border-posts facilities will enhance regional trade, spur increased global competitiveness due to reduced time-based trade and transport costs, and reduction of transit time for freight and passengers from between three to eight days to less than half a day.

The Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) said on Friday an audit shows mining companies owe the government more than the state is due to pay them in tax refunds.

Mining companies have been demanding Zambia pay the $550-$600 million due to them in Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds.

“When we put together what we owe the mining companies compared with what they are owing, you find that on the balance of numbers they are actually owing more,” ZRA Commissioner-General Kingsley Chanda said at a media briefing.

Chanda did not say how much mining companies owed the state but said it included penalties and interest. Mining companies pay government royalties and tax.

 

(Reuters)

Rosewood is the generic name for several dark-red hardwood species found in tropical regions across the globe. It fetches very high prices because it’s strong, heavy, has a beautiful red hue and takes polish very well – and because the trees are becoming increasingly scarce.

On the Chinese market in 2014, for example, prices were in excess of USD$17,000 per ton. That’s ten times higher than the price of more standard tropical hardwood.

There’s a huge demand in China for rosewood logs to make hongmu – antique furniture. Hongmu was used historically by the imperial elite and is now coveted by China’s rising middle class. Supplies of the wood from markets in Latin America and South-East Asia have dwindled in recent years, so Africa has become a key source. Within Africa, Zambia has become one of China’s main rosewood exporters in the past decade.

But the harvesting of rosewood is often not done sustainably. Several African species have already received protection under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species.

We researched the rosewood trade between China and Zambia in 2016 and 2017. We wanted to study the relationship between global and local sources of capital, rural development and environmental impacts. We also wanted to see whether regulations, adopted to preserve natural resources like rosewood, provide the right set of incentives and disincentives for business to be sustainable.

The most common name used to identify rosewood in Zambia is mukula. But because several different species are categorised as mukula, and because comprehensive inventories are lacking, current rosewood stocks are not known. Legal uncertainties and corruption mean that laws, regulations, or sustainable forest management plans, related to rosewood, are rarely implemented and monitored.

This means that Zambia doesn’t benefit much from rosewood trade. Its forests are being decimated, causing serious environmental degradation. And though rural Zambians and their families do profit, this is short-lived. We also found that because the trade isn’t being effectively monitored or taxed, the government loses about USD$ 3.2 million in potential revenue every year.

Monitoring challenges

A couple of big factors have allowed this situation to thrive.

The first is that mukula was only recently added to Zambia’s list of official commercial species. It was previously recorded under the general term “other”, so its trade wasn’t properly recorded or taxed appropriately. In addition, even though there’s an export ban on mukula leaving in log form, it has been allowed to leave the country almost exclusively in log form. Aside from legal considerations, this defies the purpose of the ban, which is to boost local processing and job creation in Zambia.

The second is that the government has been issuing and lifting various regulations in rapid sequence over the years, which have left enforcement agencies on the ground unclear about what rules applied where and when. This has boosted corruption, which means many officials have no incentive to ensure the trade is well regulated. About US$1.7 million is paid in rosewood-linked bribes each year. Most of which are collected along Zambian roads where trucks must make payments to proceed towards the points of export.

The results of these legal uncertainties can be seen in the graph below which shows log exports, as recorded by Zambian authorities through the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and log imports as recorded by Chinese authorities.

The discrepancies, in volume and value, between the declarations are huge. For example, in 2016, Zambia declared exports for about 3,000 cubic metres at an approximate value of USD$900,000. China, meanwhile, declared imports of about 61,000 cubic metres for an approximate value of USD$87 million. Because Chinese customs do not recognise mukula as rosewood, we cannot determine the amount, but because Zambia exports only a few species whose volumes haven’t changed much over the years, we are sure that mukula represents the vast majority of those volumes.

It’s clear that a series of measures, in particular log-export and production bans adopted over the years, don’t work. Bans only make sense when coupled with other measures, like effective enforcement or a system of incentives. In fact, bans have contributed to keep the rosewood market underground without really affecting harvest and trade. But solutions are possible.

Focus areas

Our research suggests that four points need immediate attention.

  1. The strategy of continuously adopting and lifting production and export bans is not working and should be abandoned. If a ban is deemed necessary, a coherent enforcement strategy must be adopted, enforced and monitored. If not, The Zambian Forestry Department should propose a revision of the legal framework and ensure logs for export are appropriately taxed.

  2. The Zambian government must support the Forests Act of 2015. This aims to protect the country’s forests and people’s long-term livelihoods by implementing innovative management and monitoring measures, including community, joint and private forest management approaches.

  3. The governments of Zambia and China need to engage in discussions with their respective CITES management and scientific authorities and list mukula as a species that may be threatened with extinction, should the trade not be closely controlled. This would hopefully limit international demand.

  4. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa should learn from each other’s environmental challenges and work better together. While Zambian forests were emptied of rosewood – and the government was deliberating potential countermeasures – buyers and traders had already moved into Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. While trying to perfect domestic laws, the precious resource will already be gone.

By working together, the battle to save these fragile forests could be won.

 

Valued contributions to the research leading to this article were also made by: Xiaoxue Weng, George Schoneveld, Kaala Moombe, Nils Bourland, and Robert Nasi.The Conversation

Paolo Omar Cerutti, Senior Scientist Centre for International Forestry Research, Centre for International Forestry Research and Davison Gumbo, Scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research, Centre for International Forestry Research

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

“China equals Hitler” said the sign held up in the Zambian capital Lusaka by a protester opposed to Beijing’s tightening grip on the economy of the southern African nation.

The demonstrator, James Lukuku, who leads a small political party, was picked up by police and spent several hours in a cell reflecting on his one-man protest.

But he is not alone in opposing China’s growing presence in President Edgar Lungu’s Zambia and in particular its major programme of loans to Lusaka. 

In fact his criticism echoes concerns shared by many across swathes of Africa and beyond, where some fear that China’s mega-projects risk leaving already fragile economies in even worse shape.

“I want to bring to the attention of the international community the Chinese influence and corruption in Zambia,” said Lukuku who wore a white T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan #sayno2China.

China is the main investor in Zambia as it is in several other African countries and with its offers of “unconditional” aid, most public tenders are awarded to Chinese bidders.

In Lusaka and across the country, China is busy constructing airports, roads, factories and police stations with the building boom largely funded by Chinese loans.

‘These criminal debts’

“China is about to take everything from Zambia. They have taken over our economy through these criminal debts. This government is contracting debts from China even without parliamentary approval,” said Lukuku.

Zambian public debt is officially around $10.6 billion but suspicions have grown in recent months that the government is hiding its indebtedness — as happened in neighbouring Mozambique, which in 2016 was forced to admit it had kept secret $2 billion of borrowing.

Fearing that Zambia might be in a similar position, the International Monetary Fund at one point delayed talks over a $1.3 billion loan deal.

The slump in the price of copper, Zambia’s leading export, has led to fears that Lusaka might even struggle to service its existing debt.

Lukuku and his supporters believe that the state is on the verge of handing control of the Zesco national electricity company, Lusaka airport and the ZNBC state broadcaster to China.

Stung by the criticism that he was selling out to China, Lungu has hit back at critics.

“I implore you to ignore the misleading headlines that seek to malign our relationship with China by mischaracterising our economic cooperation to mean colonialism,” Lungu told lawmakers recently.

‘The dominance of Chinese’

Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe has also come out to insist that, in the first half of 2018, $342 million was paid in interest to creditors, of which 53 percent were commercial sector — and only 30 percent of which were Chinese.

But the country’s main opposition party has put China’s debt dominance at the forefront of its campaign to unseat the government.

Opposition figure Stephen Katuka warned against the “rate Zambia is entertaining Chinese nationals which are displacing Zambians through big financial offers”.

Katuka, who is the secretary general of the United Party for National Development, described the replacement of Zambian workers with Chinese labourers — as is customary on Chinese-run projects — as “a time bomb”.

“If this situation is allowed to degenerate, it may lead to aggression on foreign nationals,” he added.

There have been several high profile incidents of Chinese managers allegedly mistreating their Zambian workers.

“In some instances the Chinese are beating Zambians in places of work for simply failing to follow instructions,” said Katuka.

Typically reclusive, China’s ambassador to Lusaka Lie Jie was drawn into the growing furore to defend Beijing’s intentions.

“I feel strange when I hear we want to colonise Africa,” he told journalists recently, categorically denying that China was seeking to buy Zambia’s publicly-owned companies.

Economist and head of Zambia’s Private Sector Development Association Yosuf Dodia told AFP that Chinese investment should be seen as an opportunity not a burden. 

“Zambia has been dominated by the West for 100 years… and we are seeing poverty all over the continent,” he said.

“The partnership level is around $10 billion — and that is good. There is no other country that offers those kinds of opportunities.”

The benefit of such vast investment is not always felt on the ground, however.

“I am not happy with the dominance of Chinese contractors. In the first place, the money that they get from these contracts is externalised and all that they return here are meagre wages,” said Edgar Syakachoma, himself a contractor.

“Let the government also give us the contracts so that they benefit Zambians.”

By AFP

A foremost African airline, Ethiopian Airlines, has signed an agreement with Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to invest in the newly established Zambia’s national carrier, Zambia Airways.
The latest development, which would see Zambia Airways take to the skies, came after East African nation had stayed for 24 years without a flag carrier.
 
The agreement was contained in a joint statement issued on Monday by the Group Chief Executive Officer of IDC, Mateyo Kaluba, and the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Telwolde Gebremariam, after the two parties signed the agreement in Lusaka, Zambian capital.
 
According to the statement, the national airline project of Zambia would be funded with an initial investment of $30 million with IDC – Zambian government – holding 55 percent equity, while Ethiopian Airlines would hold 45 percent share of the investment in the new venture.
 
“Obviously as we operate the airline, we will facilitate the financing necessary for its growth. It is expected that the new airline will operate 12 aircraft and carry over 1.9 million passengers by 2028,” the statement read.
 
The airline will initially operate routes across Africa, before extending its network to Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
 
Ethiopian Airlines noted the investment in Zambia Airways is consistent with its Vision 2025 Multiple Hubs Strategy in Africa.
 
“As an indigenous and truly Pan-African airline, we believe that African carriers will only get their fair share of the aviation industry and the African market through partnerships with other African carriers,” it said.
 
The Ethiopian national carrier, the only consistently profitable carrier in Africa serving about 70 global cities and 60 across Africa from its hub in Addis Ababa with a fleet of over 100 aircraft, plans to set up four airlines on the continent this year.
 
Presently, the air company which already owns stakes in carriers in Malawi and Togo, is ranked the largest carrier in African continent by revenue and profit, according to the International Air Transport Association.
 
Last week, the airline said it was one of the airlines being considered to partner with the Federal Government of Nigeria on the country’s newly launched flag carrier, Nigeria Air.
 
Nigeria is planning to set up a new national carrier about fifteen years after the old Nigeria Airways ceased operations in the country.
 
In July, the Nigerian government officially unveiled the name and logo of the country’s new carrier at the Farnborough International Public Airshow in London, United Kingdom.
 
According to the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, the new national airline would be private sector-led and driven through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, with the government owning not more than five percent equity and zero interference.
 
 
Source: NAN
Ethiopian Airlines says it has signed a shareholding agreement with Zambia’s main development agency to relaunch the southern African country’s flag carrier at an initial cost of $30 million.
 
A joint statement with Zambia’s state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in Lusaka said that under the plan, Zambia Airways, being revived more than two decades after it was shut down, would operate 12 planes by 2028.
 
The Ethiopian state-owned carrier has outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, and has been buying shares in other African airlines to gain a competitive advantage over rivals such as those in the Gulf.
 
Ethiopian Airlines said it would own 45 per cent of the revamped Zambian airline, while Zambia would own 55 per cent.
 
“The initial investment as we start up the national carrier will be $30 million. Obviously, as we operate the airline, we will facilitate the financing necessary to support its growth,” it said.
 
Ethiopian Airlines had earlier said in January that it had signed an agreement with the Zambian government to relaunch Zambia Airways.
 
“Zambia Airways will launch local and regional routes this year, while intercontinental routes, including Europe, the Middle East and Asia, will be added in the near future,” the joint statement stated.
 
It would be recalled that the state-owned Zambia Airways went into liquidation in 1994, while the privately-owned Zambian Airways then emerged as the country’s main carrier with flights to other major hubs in southern Africa, but it suspended operations in 2009.
 
 
NAN

Angolan and Zambian held the symbolic launch of the visa-free agreement for ordinary passports holders of both countries.

The ceremony held in Luanda, presided over by the Secretary of State for Interior, José Bamóquina Zau, was attended by the Zambian ambassador, Lawrance Chalungumona, and Foreign Affairs Secretaries, Tete António, and Tourism, José Alves Primo.

The Zambian diplomat declared that the symbolic act represents the opening of the two-way doors for a closer relationship between Zambia and Angola. The implementation of this process, will allow Zambians and Angolans to travel without needing to apply for entry visas, have been created in their country added .

While the secretary, José Bamóquina Zau, recalled the importance of the excellent relations of cooperation between the Ministries of Interior of the two countries, which also extend to the agreement of extradition or exchange of prisoners and others. The bilateral agreement on visa waiver in ordinary passports, signed last May, applies to nationals of both countries for holidays, tourism, family visits, private business, as well as official or transit visits.

The visa waiver agreement allows a stay in the visited territory for a period of 30 extendable days, not to exceed 90 days per year.

- ANGOP

Rosewood is the generic name for several dark-red hardwood species found in tropical regions across the globe.

It fetches very high prices because it’s strong, heavy, has a beautiful red hue and takes polish very well – and because the trees are becoming increasingly scarce. On the Chinese market in 2014, for example, prices were in excessof USD$17,000 per ton. That’s ten times higher than the price of more standard tropical hardwood.

There’s a huge demand in China for rosewood logs to make hongmu – antique furniture. Hongmu was used historically by the imperial elite and is now coveted by China’s rising middle class. Supplies of the wood from markets in Latin America and South-East Asia have dwindled in recent years, so Africa has become a key source. Within Africa, Zambia has become one of China’s main rosewood exporters in the past decade.

But the harvesting of rosewood is often not done sustainably. Several African species have already received protection under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species.

We researched the rosewood trade between China and Zambia in 2016 and 2017. We wanted to study the relationship between global and local sources of capital, rural development and environmental impacts. We also wanted to see whether regulations, adopted to preserve natural resources like rosewood, provide the right set of incentives and disincentives for business to be sustainable.

The most common name used to identify rosewood in Zambia is mukula. But because several different species are categorised as mukula, and because comprehensive inventories are lacking, current rosewood stocks are not known. Legal uncertainties and corruption mean that laws, regulations, or sustainable forest management plans, related to rosewood, are rarely implemented and monitored.

This means that Zambia doesn’t benefit much from rosewood trade. Its forests are being decimated, causing serious environmental degradation. And though rural Zambians and their families do profit, this is short-lived. We also found that because the trade isn’t being effectively monitored or taxed, the government loses about USD$ 3.2 million in potential revenue every year.

Monitoring challenges

A couple of big factors have allowed this situation to thrive.

The first is that mukula was only recently added to Zambia’s list of official commercial species. It was previously recorded under the general term “other”, so its trade wasn’t properly recorded or taxed appropriately. In addition, even though there’s an export ban on mukula leaving in log form, it has been allowed to leave the country almost exclusively in log form. Aside from legal considerations, this defies the purpose of the ban, which is to boost local processing and job creation in Zambia.

The second is that the government has been issuing and lifting various regulations in rapid sequence over the years, which have left enforcement agencies on the ground unclear about what rules applied where and when. This has boosted corruption, which means many officials have no incentive to ensure the trade is well regulated. About US$1.7 million is paid in rosewood-linked bribes each year. Most of which are collected along Zambian roads where trucks must make payments to proceed towards the points of export.

The results of these legal uncertainties can be seen in the graph below which shows log exports, as recorded by Zambian authorities through the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and log imports as recorded by Chinese authorities.

The discrepancies, in volume and value, between the declarations are huge. For example, in 2016, Zambia declared exports for about 3,000 cubic metres at an approximate value of USD$900,000. China, meanwhile, declared imports of about 61,000 cubic metres for an approximate value of USD$87 million. Because Chinese customs do not recognise mukula as rosewood, we cannot determine the amount, but because Zambia exports only a few species whose volumes haven’t changed much over the years, we are sure that mukula represents the vast majority of those volumes.

It’s clear that a series of measures, in particular log-export and production bans adopted over the years, don’t work. Bans only make sense when coupled with other measures, like effective enforcement or a system of incentives. In fact, bans have contributed to keep the rosewood market underground without really affecting harvest and trade. But solutions are possible.

Focus areas

Our research suggests that four points need immediate attention.

  1. The strategy of continuously adopting and lifting production and export bans is not working and should be abandoned. If a ban is deemed necessary, a coherent enforcement strategy must be adopted, enforced and monitored. If not, The Zambian Forestry Department should propose a revision of the legal framework and ensure logs for export are appropriately taxed.

  2. The Zambian government must support the Forests Act of 2015. This aims to protect the country’s forests and people’s long-term livelihoods by implementing innovative management and monitoring measures, including community, joint and private forest management approaches.

  3. The governments of Zambia and China need to engage in discussions with their respective CITES management and scientific authorities and list mukula as a species that may be threatened with extinction, should the trade not be closely controlled. This would hopefully limit international demand.

  4. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa should learn from each other’s environmental challenges and work better together. While Zambian forests were emptied of rosewood – and the government was deliberating potential countermeasures – buyers and traders had already moved into Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique. While trying to perfect domestic laws, the precious resource will already be gone.

By working together, the battle to save these fragile forests could be won.

 

Credit: The Conversation.

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