YANDE SYAMPEYO, Kapiri Mposhi
LUAPULA is now said to be the investment destination of choice among businesses following an expo the province hosted last year.
Over 20 firms, both local and foreign are now at various stages of implementing investments in Luapula Province with 60 others holding discussions with the provincial administration with the prospect of investing in the region blessed with abundant water bodies.
Realising the benefits that have accrued to Luapula as a result of the expo, other provinces want to match that development.
Because they cannot beat them, they have joined in hosting expos and investment fora, with Central Province having held one recently.
Central Province hosted a six-day Investment Forum and Expo under the theme: ‘Accelerating investment for inclusive and sustainable development’.
The event, which was held at Mulungushi University from October 8 to 13, was used as a tool to propel investment in the areas such as agriculture, agro-processing, tourism, manufacturing, energy, mining, infrastructure development and forestry.
As luck would have it, the area is already attracting foreign investment.
Provincial permanent secretary Chanda Kabwe says five investors from Sweden and Sudan are in the country to explore investment prospects in the tourism sector.
Mr Kabwe says the provincial administration is optimistic that the expo and investment forum will bring massive employment opportunities to people in the region which is centrally located to the rest of the country.
“We have seen a number of inquiries from the companies that exhibited at the expo and are now are trying to invest. We are now determined after the expo to see the region open up to investment in accordance with the Seventh National Development Plan(7NDP) and the vision 2030.
He believes when investment is spearheaded in the province, it will bridge the development inequality and help reduce poverty in the 12 districts of the region.
“We believe the just-ended expo is a sure way of taking development to the rural parts of Zambia.
“So to the young people, jobs are coming and so are the business opportunities because the investment expo we hosted recently was about laying a foundation that will possess and give hope to Zambians, especially the people of Central province,” the permanent secretary says.
After the expo, Mr Chanda says it is now time for action.
“In the last 40 years, Central province has not witnessed such a big event. After the investment expo, the real job has now started because it is now about implementation. We showcased the potential in the various sectors and we now await the much needed investment,” Mr Chanda says.
President Edgar Lungu says if the country is to accelerate investment and achieve sustainable development, there is need to provide platforms which can attract both local and foreign investment.
Speaking during the official opening of the Central province expo and investment forum, Mr Lungu says attracting investment in Zambia calls for a mind-set change, total commitment and passion among the citizenry.
He said the hosting of the Central province expo is an indication that the country is moving in the right direction in its quest to boost economic growth.
Mr Lungu says it is impossible for the province to record growth without taking significant steps to unveil and showcase its potential.
“This means if you have it, show it. If you are beautiful, walk around the catwalk and show that you are beautiful, there is nothing wrong with that.
“In our language we say, ‘Ukaipa Nkope, Ziba kuyimba’ (loosely translated as if you are not beautiful, you should at least learn how to sing). I believe Luapula showed us what it has, Central province has shown us what it has and soon, other regions will show us if they are beautiful. If not, they will sing the song and we will dance with them,” Mr Lungu said.
He says for the country to record growth, citizens should begin to make bold decisions aimed at stirring investment.
“Who can say it better than the minister of Luapula province Nickson Chilangwa who has notoriously come to be known as ‘committee of one’, for his insistence that when he believes it can be done, he wants to see it done.
“Minister of Central province minister Sydney Mushanga, thank you so much for ‘copying’. We give you credit for not being ashamed to host an investment forum and expo. Most of our people want to claim monopoly of wisdom and knowledge but one cannot succeed like that. We cannot talk about attracting investment to our respective provinces, if we cannot embark on aggressive campaigns to promote various investment opportunities, and favourable Government policies which are in place to attract investors,” he says.
The President said it is Government’s policy to continuously engage and support private sector growth with a view to encourage investment in the economy.
Mr Lungu said “We have a mammoth task to deliver development to our people. In this regard, I wish to extend my invitation to the private sector to walk with us in our development journey”.
He says Government is resolved to promote business growth in its quest to develop the country for the good of every citizen.
The United Nations (UN) system wants Zambia to begin to adopt innovation as a catalyst to business and private sector growth.
UN resident coordinator Janet Rogan said the Zambian Government should prioritise transformation and get rid of old-styled piecemeal development.
“By 2050, the population of Zambia is likely to double and all those people need the country to be different. The country cannot afford to stand for the next 50 years repeating the old formula and getting nowhere,” Ms Rogan said.
She said the UN will continue to spot national priorities in lower middle income countries like Zambia for sustainable development.
The Kabwe Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) believes hosting the Central province expo is historical and poised to transform the region.
KCCI president Christabel Reinke said the expo presents an opportunity to local investors to create job opportunities and stir the growth of the economy.
Luapula province minister Nickson Chilangwa stressed that hosting a successful expo requires hard work and resilience.
Mr Chilangwa hailed the Central province administration for engaging him during preparations of its investment forum and expo.
“What we are seeing (investment) in Luapula province will be replicated here (Central province) and all it needs is support. Is it my hope that other provinces will replicate this event,” Mr Chilangwa said.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Kapiri Mposhi