KALONDE NYATI, Lusaka
A SOUND manufacturing industry is necessary for any economy to take off and to ensure start-up industries are fully equipped with the right tools to operate effectively is the most critical thing any government can do.
This is because it is the small industries today, which will emerge into large conglomerates tomorrow.
As observed by American economist and political theorist Walt Whitman Rostow in his book; the stages of economic growth a non-communist manifesto, any country intending to develop has to pass through five stages to reach a degree of economic development with the take-off stage, which is the fourth stage of development.
At this stage, the author says the manufacturing industry assumes greater importance, although the number of industries remains small.
Therefore, Government also realises this fact as the importance of a strong industrial base in ensuring sustainable growth and has through the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) embarked on the development of industrial yards, which will enable entrepreneurs involved in steel and wood processing, automotive services and agro-processing to undertake the activities in an organised set-up.
This is unlike the current trend where they operate on the streets in various parts of the country.
The industrial yards, which are being funded by the African Development Bank are expected to gobble over K200 million and will be developed in eight districts at initial stage.
The districts are Solwezi, Mongu, Kasama, Kitwe and Ndola, Chipata, Mansa and Lusaka.
Last week, CEEC flagged off the K25 million investment of the construction of the industrial yard in Chipata, with the aim of capturing small-scale enterprises involved in the manufacturing of various products.
The Chipata industrial yard, whose construction will start in April will create 400 jobs and contribute to the industrialisation of the area, through agro-processing and gemstone polishing among other projects.
The project has also cheered the community and particularly, the entrepreneurs.
One such entrepreneur is Andrew Chama, who believes that the creation of the one-stop-shop facility will help businesses produce quality and standardised goods and services.
Mr Chama said, “This has come at a time when Government is emphasising on adding value to what comes out of the soil and water by processing, preserving, packaging and labelling to meet the international market.”
He says the development has assured the enterprises market, safety, organised workshop to effectively conduct business.
Like many other entrepreneurs, Mr Chama feels there is need to develop a sense of responsibility for the project to yield the expected results of contributing to the industrialisation of the district and the country as a whole.
At the launch, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe said the project will enable the country achieve economic transformation through people-driven industrialisation.
“The development resonates with Government’s programme of wealth creation and empowerment of citizens at household level as well as the strategy to deliver industrialisation,” she said.
Mrs Mwanakatwe says industrialisation is necessary because it will not only result in value addition to primary goods but also trigger an improvement in technology.
“I, therefore, encourage the people of Eastern Province to fully embrace the project and take full ownership,” she said.
This realisation, has seen the conclusion of the tender process for Solwezi, Mongu, Kasama, Kitwe and Ndola industrial yards, where contractors are expected to start works soon. Government is currently finalising tenders for Mansa and Lusaka yards.
Vubwi Member of parliament Moses Mawere is excited that the industrial yards will unlock the innovation among the locals in his constituency thus result in the production of goods that will result in employment creation and expand the revenue base in the area.
Mr Mawere, who is also Minister of Youth and Sports, feels CEEC should quicken the development of the project so that its objectives of industrialisation of the area, through agro-processing and gemstone polishing among various projects, can be realised.
It is gratifying that CEEC has supported 296 projects across value chains such as groundnuts, energy, dairy, timber, tourism, gemstones and rice, totalling to about K18 million in Eastern Province.
Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu has expressed optimism that the industrial yards will facilitate further growth in the sectors.
“Some key areas of support that we have witnessed and believe will strongly benefit from the industrial yards include agro business, gemstones and lapidary, cotton, rice and dairy. These value chain projects need to be upgraded from being rudimentary projects into projects that will attract both internal and external customers and hence contribute to the development of Eastern Province.
We are confident that the industrial yards will facilitate this transformation because some of these projects we have witnessed under the CEEC from micro, small and medium-scale enterprises to substantive enterprises,” he said.
With such interventions, it is clear that Government wants Zambia to take-off and make the manufacturing industry assume greater importance in the economic transformation of the country.
It is, therefore, important for stakeholder participation in the successful implementation of the industrial yards.