Batoka to power Livingstone boom

NANCY MWAPE, Livingstone
MINISTER of Finance Felix Mutati says Government is working on reviving economic activities in Livingstone through construction of the Batoka hydro-power plant and a premier conferencing centre with the capacity to accommodate 5,000 delegates.
Addressing journalists here yesterday, Mr Mutati said the US$4 billion Batoka power project will create 6,000 jobs during the construction phase while the creation of a premier conferencing centre will significantly contribute to infrastructure development and increase tourist arrivals in Livingstone and Zambia as a whole.
Mr Mutati said other developments expected in Livingstone are the erection of sky wheel at a cost of US$18 million and the construction of three-star and five-star hotels which will gobble US$50 million.
He said the actualisation of these projects will increase the volume of activities in the city and help transform Zambia’s tourist capital.
He said Government’s strategy for financing the Batoka project will be through the capital market, private sector involvement and public private participation.
“We want to use the Batoka as a vehicle for development. As Government, we don’t want to simply collect taxes but generate business opportunities and create jobs for the locals,” he said.
Mr Mutati is hopeful that the capital market will create instruments that will make favourable investment for participation of Zambians.
He said the just-ended Batoka hydro-power conference generated significant interest from both financiers and investors who expressed strong commitment to participate once the project procurement documents are finalised.
Officially opening the capital markets conference here, Mr Mutati said Government will undertake reforms that will allow pension funds to aggressively participate in capital markets.
Mr Mutati said there is urgent need for Zambia to address obstacles to economic growth such as the energy deficit, logistical challenges, bureaucracy and people’s mindset.
He bemoaned the low saving levels among Zambians and limited capital market instruments to facilitate participation of small and medium entrepreneurs on the Lusaka Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
SEC commissioner Jonathan Chipili said there is need for deliberate plans that direct specific focus on capital markets as a long-term financing strategy for Government and private sector growth-oriented projects.
Dr Chipili said the conference will help the capital market spur economic growth and position itself as a vital financial sector.

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