KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
THE overwhelming support that the Central Province administration has received in fundraising for the hosting of the Central Province Investment Forum and Expo 2018 is a pointer to the envisaged success of the event scheduled for Kabwe next week.
The province needs K8 million to hold its first-ever expo that will take place from October 8 to 13 at the Mulungushi University, with President Edgar Lungu as the guest of honour.
So far, if the donations and pledges that are trickling in are anything to go by, the targeted amount will have been met by the time the expo, to be attended by both local and foreign investors, takes off in a district that has since shed off its “ghost town” tag.
Following the heels of Luapula Province which hosted a similar expo earlier last year, the Central Province appears set for a successful gathering that will be held under the theme “Accelerated investment for inclusive and sustainable development.”
Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga says although the money, so far raised, falls way below the targeted K8 million, he describes the private sector response in making contributions as demonstrative of its sound relationship with the region’s administration.
Among the earliest companies to respond to the call for partnership in hosting the Central Province Investment Forum and Expo 2018 was Savenda General Insurance Limited (SGIL), which made its donation during the launch held at Fringilla in Chisamba in August.
Since then, many other companies have come on board to ensure the successful hosting of the expo that will be held in a province that is home to one of the world’s largest national parks, the Kafue National Park, and the place where one of the world’s best known explorers, David Livingstone, breathed his last.
Other companies that have weighed in to ensure a successful expo are China Jiangxi Corporation (K200,000.00), Seedco (K150,000.00), Zambia Railways Limited(K150,000.00), Sable Transport (K100,000.00), Forestical Fertiliser (K100,000.00) and Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (K50,000.00).
The role of the private sector remains key in national development as it continues to partner with the central government in improving the lives of the Zambian people through job creation.
The theme of the Central Province Investment Forum and Expo 2018 is in line with that of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) 2017-2021 whose theme is “Accelerating development efforts towards the Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind”.
Not “leaving anyone behind” is key to Zambia’s development path, which is why the involvement of the private sector in government initiatives such as the Central Province expo is more than welcome.
In the foreword of the 7NDP 2017-2021 document, President Edgar Lungu buttresses the foregoing point by calling for an all-inclusive approach to its implementation.
“The government recognises that to deliver inclusive and equitable development to the citizens requires concerted efforts and commitment of all stakeholders.
“I would, therefore, like to urge all Zambians from all walks of life to be fully committed and participate in the implementation of this plan,” says President Lungu.
It, therefore, goes without saying that the enthusiastic response from the private sector in supporting the Central Province expo is an affirmation of President Lungu’s appeal for all stakeholders to have a role in the realisation of Vision 2030.
And SGIL chief executive officer Irene Muyenga says her company’s involvement in the Central Province Investment Forum and Expo, through the donation of K200,000.00, is in recognition of the importance of Public Private Partnership initiatives.
In a speech read for her by SGIL head of finance and administration Mr Makungu at the launch of the expo in August, Ms Muyenga said for Central Province to fulfill its economic potential, it needed the involvement of everyone.
“This province has enormous potential to become the economic hub of our country, but this dream can only be realised if we, in the private sector, continue to partner with the government through a Public Private Partnership initiative,” she said.
At the event that was graced by Vice-President Inonge Wina, the SGIL boss also stated that Government’s decision to come up with the Central Province Investment Forum and Expo was further demonstration of its commitment to not leaving anyone behind in the country’s developmental trajectory.
She said her company will continue to take an active role in national development by partnering with Government as it rolls out its various projects throughout the country.
“Savenda General Insurance will ensure that Government does not walk alone on the path to bringing development to the Central Province. We have HOUSEalready registered our presence in the province by working with farmers in the Mkushi Farming Block,” she added.
She stated the Central Province occupied a special place in Zambia’s history and that the holding of the investment forum and expo 2018 was yet another addition to the attraction the region had continued to receive.
“It is in view of this that we decided that by being one of the major sponsors of the investment forum and expo 2018, we shall be fulfilling our corporate social responsibility by giving back to the good people of Central Province,” Ms Muyenga said.
One of the objectives of the expo is to expose the areas earmarked for public private partnerships in order to derive full value to the province while providing an essential platform for local and international communities to accelerate and encourage sustainable development in the region.
And highlighting the importance of partnerships, Zambia Development Agency director-general Perry Mapani says the expo will also focus on partnerships and joint ventures.
“We are also focusing on partnerships and joint ventures between local and foreign businesses as a conduit for technological transfer, access to cheaper funds and access to export markets,” he said during the launch.
The expo, he added, will enhance the profile of Central Province by bringing investment opportunities to the doorstep of potential investors.
It can only be hoped that, with a few days remaining before October 8, many more companies will render their support towards the expo whose main objective will be to link the province to the world in order to promote growth and investment through sustainable development.
KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka