Editor's Comment

Steel plant to spur economic growth

GOVERNMENT has focused on a rapid scaling-up of public investment to address the country’s infrastructure needs.
This development strategy is expected to spur economic growth.
Under this strategy, Government has embarked on a full-scale construction and rehabilitation of roads, houses, medical facilities, schools from primary, secondary, colleges up to universities, including correctional facilities.
While this may not bring immediate economic benefits, it is creating jobs and primary industries along the way.
For instance, individuals and the private sector have responded by investing in the real estate sector.
This has created demand for building products such as cement, blocks and steel.
While cement is now being manufactured locally, it appears steel suppliers are failing to meet the local demand.
Therefore, news that Rimjhim Ispat Limited, India’s second largest stainless steel manufacturing company, plans to set up a steel manufacturing facility in Zambia is welcome.
It is sweet music to the ear.
This is because the company’s interest to invest in Zambia will complement Government’s job creation and industrialisation agenda.
Zambia, like any other third world country, is in dire need of foreign direct investment.
FDI is critical for developing and emerging market countries.
Zambia is in need of private investment in infrastructure, energy, and water to increase jobs and wages.
Zambians should be proud of themselves because Rimjhim Ispat Limited is attracted to invest in the country because of the historic peace and political stability record.
Manufacturing, which is among Government’s five economic priority areas, is crucial because Zambian raw materials are in need of value addition.
The investment by Rimjhim Ispat Limited will help save the foreign exchange used to import the steel and stabilise the Kwacha.
Currently, most people and companies are importing steel from China, Dubai and South Africa, which is contributing to the Kwacha becoming weak because the country is importing more than it is exporting.
The country will also benefit from the transfer of skills because expatriates from India will impart their knowledge to the Zambian workforce.
It will make economic sense for Rimjhim Ispat Limited to develop skills locally instead of hiring all the workers from abroad.
Beyond this, the Zambian High Commission in India should collaborate with Rimjhim Ispat Limited so that some Zambian students can be identified from local universities and colleges to undergo internship with Rimjhim Ispat Limited.
This will make it easier for Zambian workers to easily adapt and understand the corporate culture of Rimjhim Ispat Limited.
It is also expected that the coming of Rimjhim Ispat Limited will help bring down the cost of steel in the country.
The firm can use Zambia as a one-stop shop for manufacturing and exporting its steel within the Southern African Development Community as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
This will see the country earn the much-needed foreign exchange.
Rimjhim Ispat Limited’s iron and steel should help form a buoyant industry and become the backbone of the country’s economy like in other countries.
The level of per capita consumption of steel wherever it is manufactured is one of the important indicators of socio-economic development and living standard of the people in any country.
Job creation by Rimjhim Ispat Limited will be priority and any investment that promotes job creation is timely and consistent with the goals of the Seventh National Development Plan.

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