Zambian parliament recommends private investment in state firms

Zambia must consider seeking equity partners to recapitalise its state-owned firms, a parliamentary committee recommended on Tuesday.

Zambia transferred the shares of 29 of its 33 state-owned companies in 2015 from the ministry of finance to the government’s investment arm, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

The state-owned firms include power utility Zesco Ltd, the nation’s only fixed-line telecoms firm, Zamtel, Zambia Railways and newspaper companies, Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail.

“There is need to change the face of the companies through recapitalisation,” Peter Daka, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on state-owned firms, said in presenting its report.

Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe told parliament the government had already approved plans to invite private sector investors into its companies. “All the state-owned companies will ultimately list on the (Lusaka) stock exchange to raise capital,” she said.

The number of state-owned companies under the IDC declaring dividends had increased to seven this year from only one in 2015, she said.

Half of the IDC portfolio should become profit-making and start declaring dividends by the year 2020, she added. - Reuters