Government is in the process of reviewing the Co-operatives Act to strengthen its capacity to enhance diversification, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Kayula Siame said.

Ms Siame said the ministry is early next year expected to present the Bill to Parliament to pave way for the revision of the Act.

Last year, President Lungu moved co-operatives from the Ministry of Agriculture to enhance their capacity to provide other services other than agricultural-related services.

Ms Siame said on Thursday evening during the American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia, European Business Club and the British Chamber of Commerce joint business discussion that the ministry would ensure co-operatives contribute to socio-economic development through the diversification of services.

“Co-operatives are a new business model, which as a ministry, we are pushing strongly, and going forward, we want co-operatives to realise that it is not about inputs and farming alone, but other successful sectors,” she said.

Ms Siame said the strengthening of the capacity of co-operatives is aimed at achieving inclusiveness, hence the need for the private sector to work closely with Government in maximising the country’s production capacity to fully benefit from the integration of regional blocs.

“With Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community, and Eastern African Community coming together, Zambia will have access to 26 markets, so we need to develop products that can compete favourably,” she said.

Earlier, Zambia Association of Manufacturers chairperson Rosetta Chabala called for the promotion of sectors that have high return, citing manufacturing as one of them which, if fully promoted, can contribute to growing the economy.

Ms Chabala, who is also Metal Fabricators of Zambia Limited managing director, said manufacturing is critical in the value chain and has the potential to create meaningful employment.

She, however, bemoaned the country’s continued failure to enhance value addition to copper, saying benefits from Zambia’s mineral resource will continue to remain low.