Analysis: MICHEAL KABUNGO
HAVE you ever thought of going on holiday to North-Western Province?
Unless you have family here, it is probably not the first destination that springs to mind for a leisure break.
But imagine it had a championship golf course?
How about a huge lake with fishing and watersports facilities?
And wildlife, set amid pristine forests that rival any of the national parks in the country?
You might be tempted, right?
This is not a far-fetched pipedream; it is something we are actively working towards in the new town of Kalumbila – dubbed the Happiest Town in Africa – 140km west of Solwezi.
We are not there yet, but we made a giant step forward this weekend with the official commissioning of our world-class 18-hole golf course designed by internationally acclaimed golf course designer Peter Matkovich.
We still need to work on increasing the amount of accommodation for visitors, but the vision is there, and it offers some exciting prospects for ensuring that Kalumbila – and indeed the wider area stretching from West Lunga National Park to Solwezi – could one day be a tourist destination of note.
With that dream comes the promise of more jobs as the local economy diversifies away from reliance on a single source of income from mining.
And indeed the long-term economic growth potential in Kalumbila District should not be narrowly considered as being mining-only.
Businesspeople with a long-term view are encouraged to look at secondary economic activities triggered by the demand being generated in the new Kalumbila Town.
Kalumbila Town is designed to outlive the 20-year life of the sentinel Mine, operated by FQM subsidiary Kalumbila Minerals.
FQM has invested US$80 million in the town’s planning and development and with a Multi-Facility Economic Zone application awaiting a Statutory Instrument, the new mining town is set to begin to realise its long sought-after economic growth potential and become one of Zambia’s new business and tourism hubs.
The design of the town is such that it should outlive the life of the mine.
You do that by encouraging different investors into the town, where businesses and industrial development currently support the mine, but also provide a spillover effect for other social and economic developments in the town.
The town is design on the basis of three pillars: affordable and good quality accommodation, a vibrant high street and business enclave, and a well designed and developed industrial zone. With these three pillars, there are opportunities for people or businesses that would initially come to support the mine, but also to develop other opportunities within the area.
The US$350 million Multi-Facility Economic Zone was started in 2012 with a development horizon of five years.
It has been designed to function as a key part of the larger Kalumbila Town development project and to carry on beyond the lifespan of Sentinel mine. In 2014, 68 businesses had expressed investment interest to Kalumbila Town Development Corporation with a total combined investment of US$100 million, and 1,698 immediate jobs once the MFEZ gets the go-ahead.
A US$40 million mill ball factory by ME Long Teng Zambia Limited (MELTZ), a joint venture between Chilean company Compañía Electro Metalúrgica (Elecmetal) and Chinese Company ME Long Teng Limited, starts operation at the MFEZ site imminently.
In addition, the multi-million dollar Kalumbila Multi Facility Economic Zone has attracted interest from various investors, ranging from mine equipment suppliers and manufacturers to companies in construction, retail, hospitality, finance, warehousing, food processing, catering and other service industries, and including heavy equipment supplier BIA Zambia.
This is expected to make a huge contribution to the growth of medium to large industries in Kalumbila, while also increasing job opportunities through spin-off commercial activities in the region.
And as a town development company, we are giving out opportunities for the private sector, small and large to develop industries, to develop businesses that initially support the mine, but also to give them opportunities to develop businesses that support the town,” he added.
The company’s sustainability programme includes local business development, which helps to create real business opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
It all feeds into FQM’s view that in order for the town to have a future beyond mining, success is largely dependent on sound leadership and sectors working together to continually remove the barriers to small and medium enterprise development.
We look forward to welcoming you to Kalumbila in the coming years to see what the Happiest Town in Africa has to offer!
The author is Kalumbila Town Development Corporation town services coordinator.
Analysis: MICHEAL KABUNGO