KELVIN MBEWE, Kafue
NON-RESIDENTS of Kafue only know it as the home of Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), the fertiliser-producing company. However, there is more happening in the town besides the common narratives.
A visit to Kafue reveals that there are emerging industries and a number of development projects taking place in the town.
All the developments hinge on the efforts by local authorities to get the town to reclaim its status as an industrial hub following President Edgar Lungu’s declaration that Kafue will be transformed into an iron and steel economic zone.
Speaking when he visited Kafue in 2016, President Lungu said the Economic Facility Zone is meant to induce the revamping of the economic status of Kafue and spearhead the industrialisation programme for Zambia as a whole.
In its prime days, the town boasted of having viable firms such as Kafue Textiles Zambia (KTZ), NCZ, Bata Tannery, among other industries, which went down after the privatisation of state enterprises in Zambia in the 1990s
Nevertheless, Government recapitalised NCZ in 2012 with an injection of K25 million and the firm has since resumed operations.
Today, a number of industries have been set up in Kafue town. Among them are Kafue Steel, the multi-million dollar steel company, Infraset, a company that manufactures railway slippers and other concrete products, and Executive Fit, a fabric company among others.
The first ever shopping mall, Kafue River, has also opened in the town, while a variety of guest houses and hotels springing up, too.
These developments have cheered residents of Kafue.
“I have lived in Kafue since 1992 and the developments that I have seen in the recent past are very impressive. You can see that things are changing for the better.
“A number of people here had no jobs but most of them have been absorbed by Kafue Steel, Infraset, NCZ among others,” said Chipululuka Chisanga, a taxi driver.
Another resident, Fredah Mwale, said the coming up of new industries, a shopping mall and banks is a sign that the future looks brighter for Kafue.
“The reason I am saying so is because we are seeing a lot of investments coming into Kafue. Banks do not go to a place whose future is uncertain. We have seen Zanaco, Stanbic Bank, Barclays, Indo Zambia Bank setting up branches here,” she said.
And Kafue district commissioner Joseph Kamana is equally optimistic that the district is on the right path to development following the President’s declaration of the town as an iron and steel economic zone.
“The development of Kafue as an economic zone is on course. As you might be aware, Kafue is one of the districts that have been allocated money in the 2018 budget to establish a multi- facility economic zone,” he said.
Mr Kamana said Kafue district council has since set aside 1,000 hectares of land for the development of the multi-facility economic zone in the area.
A formal request for the land has been submitted to the Ministry of Lands for approval.
Mr Kamana said a number of investors have been invited and will be visiting Kafue this month to consider how they could revive Kafue Textiles, which was the pride of the district.
To support these developments, the town needs better roads to ease the movement of people and goods.
“My office has written to the Road Development Agency to construct township roads as they undertake the Kafue-Mazabuka road,” he said.
A check at some of the industries in Kafue showed that the district is slowly regaining its status as an industrial hub.
NCZ marketing and public relations manager Evans Mupeta took the author around the plant.
Mr Mupeta has been working at NCZ since 1990 and he believes that the declaration of Kafue as an iron and steel economic zone is well-intended.
“Currently, we have 750 full-time employees and about 1, 600 on part-time. If we get some funding from Government, we will double the numbers because there is a lot of demand, especially for sulphuric acid,” he said.
And a visit to Kafue Steel Company also indicated that the district is indeed on the right path to development.
The company has about 1,500 employees, some on part-time and others on full-time basis.
Kafue Steel has contributed to the construction of some of the prominent infrastructure in the district and Zambia as a whole.
“We are supplying steel for the construction of the Lower Kafue hydro station, the pipeline from Kafue to Lusaka that Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company is currently undertaking among others,” Julius Kaoma, executive technical director for the company, said.
Dr Kaoma said massive steel production promotes the culture of economic growth.
“We need 320, 000 tonnes of steel to satisfy the Zambian economy, this plant is producing 270,000 tonnes. There is a shortfall, so we need to expand. And this means more job creation,” he said.
If Kafue continues to develop at this pace, it will be transformed into an iron and steel economic zone and put Zambia on the right path to industrial development.
KELVIN MBEWE, Kafue