By Nation Reporter
TIMBER merchants may soon use e-commerce to sell their products and wood articles using internet in order to access foreign markets which offer better volumes and prices, according to the Zambia National Sawmillers Association (ZNAS).
ZNAS president William Bwalya told the Daily Nation that they came up with the initiative in order to allow members sell their timber and other wood articles internationally and locally through the internet in collaboration with partner trade federations such as E-wood Network Technologies Limited of China who have more than 1,500 wood users.
Mr. Bwalya said e-commerce will help ZNAS members to explore other markets by ensuring that they broadened their prospective customer base to create new markets for their products to enhance productivity and profit-making as the sector was going through a lot of challenges ranging from the slump in price to limited customer base.
“In order to mitigate the problem of low marketing skills by our members the association is setting up the e-commerce network platform to enable members to sell timber and other wood articles internationally and locally through the internet in collaboration with partner trade federations such as E-wood Network Technologies Limited of China who have more than 1,500 wood users.
“Grappling with the crippling effects of the economic recession and its debilitating impact on the mining sector and its spin-offs, the sawmilling soft wood sub-sector is experiencing low domestic demand of timber and a timber price slump,” Mr. Bwalya said.
He said the stumpage price of round wood from ZAFFICO has continued to rise by 30% every year in the last three years and that the supplier has continuously offloaded the inflation rate in its pricing of round wood to the consumer.
“This year, the entire wood industry in Zambia has seen a decline in both demand and price and fast growth has become history. Wood transactions are in disarray….upstream and down stream profits being affected by intermediate agencies.
“In view of this, Zambia timber industry is in urgent need of an open, fair, large scale, comprehensive online trading platform for domestic and international market, hence the birth of the ZNAS e-wood commerce network platform which is meant to carry out such a revolution in the Zambian wood industry,” he said.
Mr Bwalya said his association needed to offer its customers a vertical e-commerce platform to source quality timber and furniture at competitive prices. He said the e-commerce technology will integrate domestic and overseas wood resources and connect online with online cross-border trading to realize the trading of a wide variety of timber both indigenous as well as plantation wood. “We aim to build a domestic and international cross-border e-wood trading platform which integrates online industrial big data featuring full industrial coverage from raw wood to the manufacture and sales of furniture and other wood articles,” he said.
He said in 2015 China’s total demand for wood reached 420 million cubic metres, with a gap of 130 million cubic metres which the overseas suppliers could not meet.
He said there was need for ZNAS to exploit the business opportunities in China since it was the world’s largest consumer and producer of wood articles in the world, adding that such opportunities could only benefit the members by initiatives such as e-commerce.