KABANDA CHULU, KALONDE NYATI, Lusaka
VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina yesterday challenged government agencies and the private sector to stop talking about the country’s natural resource potential and begin to bring utilisation of resources into reality.
And Zambia Chamber of Mines president Nathan Chishimba says President Lungu’s Government has demonstrated good leadership through the various minerals’ policy interventions that have resulted in stability and increased mining production.
Officiating at the 7th Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference (ZIMEC) under the theme ‘mining and energy development in Zambia -increasing economic activities’, Mrs Wina said the negative experience (low commodity price and power shortages) of last year provides an opportunity to re-strategise on how best the continued growth of the mining and energy sectors can be secured to sustain the country’s development.
“It is an undisputable fact that mining will continue to play an important role in Zambia’s economic development, while energy will remain the lifeline of the economy,” she said.
Ms Wina said Government is addressing the challenge of inadequate energy supply by embarking on several projects aimed at diversifying the energy mix.
“Many lessons have been learnt from Zambia’s over-reliance on hydro-power generation. The country is endowed with renewable energy sources, but utilisation is still very low.
“Renewable energy technologies are advancing and associated costs are declining drastically. So, honourable ministers and investors, we need to stop talking about potential and begin to bring this into reality,” she said.
Ms Wina said despite the setback of low copper prices and power shortages, the mining sector proved resilient and continued to register positive growth.
“This was observed in the increased mineral production from 710,860 tonnes in 2015, to 770,597 tonnes last year, and production is projected to reach 850,000 tonnes by end of 2017,” she said.
She said Government alone cannot drive the diversification agenda within the mining sector as well as other sectors.
“It is for this reason that development of a local content strategy is on the cards. The strategy will be developed in consultation with all stakeholders taking into account the country’s resource endowment, and capabilities,” Ms Wina said.
Earlier, Minister of Mines Christopher Yaluma said Government will remain transparent to enable the private sector influence formulation.
“Policy predictability is a must since it enables investors to plan for long term, but also investors, especially the mines, should pay correct taxes,” he said.
And Mr Chishimba said there is need to address challenges associated with power supply, inadequate skills and ensuring the right investment and minerals policy environment.