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Ground breaking ceremony of Ndola Hill Mini by President Lungu

Copperbelt awakening

WEDNESDAY’S momentous occasion where President Lungu launched the construction of US$50 million Freedom Park now Edgar Chagwa Lungu shopping mall and yesterday’s commissioning of the synclinorium shaft at Mopani Copper Mines’ (MCM) Nkana Mine are clear indications that the economy of the Copperbelt is very much alive.
The mall, which will be the third in recent months, is a demonstration that Government is living up to its commitment of facilitating the diversification of the economy from copper dependence.
The mall project by the National Pensions Scheme Authority will create 1,800 jobs for the local people and help in poverty reduction.
The newly-commissioned project on the other hand will prolong the lifespan of the mine by 25 to 30 years.
Both projects are a mark of confidence in the resolve to turn around the economy of the Copperbelt Province.
We welcome these two developments because they will help in creating jobs and reduce poverty.
The Edgar Chagwa Lungu Mall will go a long way in helping Zambia diversify its economy.
Therefore, the start of the mall construction in the city, the Mukuba Mall already in operation in Kitwe as well as malls such as Kafubu, Jacaranda, Kansenshi and Z-Mart in Ndola are a huge relief to the residents of the two towns and the rest of Copperbelt.
We are relieved that these malls will in the near future not just provide jobs but also offer ready markets for farmers who have, hitherto, struggled to sell their produce.
By offering farmers a ready market, these two facilities will help Zambia’s drive towards diversification to agriculture because farmers can now produce more, knowing the market is ready available.
We have also seen how the existing shopping malls in Lusaka and other towns have helped to beautify the cities apart from creating jobs.
These facilities do not just create employment but they are a tourist attraction, a source of revenue to the government and provide entertainment amenities, which keep the youth from drugs and bad activities.
It is undeniable that Zambia has been going through serious economic challenges over the past two years and these challenges are not unique to this country alone.
A host of other countries in the region, including middle income countries in Asia and the Americas, are facing the same glitches.
The challenges have witnessed some mines slowing down operations, sending some miners on forced leave, apart from reducing the contractual works, all this coming on the back of energy deficiency and reduced copper prices.
On its part, Government has instituted austerity measures aimed at boosting economic growth, containing inflation, reducing Government expenditure and the budget deficit.
The other measures have focused on intensifying diversification to agriculture, tourism and fisheries as long term measures to address the challenges.
Zambia’s economy is largely mineral-dependent and, therefore, when the global economy sneezes and copper prices fall, it is expected that the local economy also suffers.
All these measures are realistic of the challenges facing the global economy and not just Zambia alone.
Like President Lungu said, projects such as the synclinorium shaft renew Zambia’s hope not only to the mining industry but to the nation as a whole.
It is also worth noting that Glencore, which is MCM mother company has also set aside a further US$1.1 billion for a number of other projects aimed at modernising its mining operation in Zambia.
President Lungu said these investments will make the mine more resilient to global metal price shocks because they will be cost-effective and more adaptive to various other challenges.
The malls and the synclinorium shaft, which are a beacon of hope for employees and business people that depend on the mining and trading for a living, have many spin-offs that will not just benefit the people of the region or the PF alone but Zambia as a whole.