NATIONAL development planning minister Alexander Chiteme says the Seventh National Development Plan identifies textile industry development as one of the “quick win” projects to accelerate wealth and job creation in Zambia.
Of late, the 7NDP 2017 – 2021 has seen almost all senior government officials make clichéd ‘developmental’ pronouncements in reference to its flowery contents.
A perusal in the document, under economic diversification and job creation, indicate that during the 7NDP period, the government would accelerate economic diversification and growth.
“This will be achieved by having a diversified and export-oriented agriculture and mining sector, a diversified tourism sector, improved energy production and distribution, improved transport system and infrastructure, enhanced information, communication and technology, enhanced decent job opportunities in the economy and enhanced research and development,” highlights the Plan, in part.
“To achieve the results of a diversified and export-oriented agriculture sector, six strategies and 24 programmes will be implemented….”
Speaking at the official launch of the Central Province investment forum and expo 2018 in Chisamba last Friday, Chiteme said Central Province was poised to benefit through the Mulungushi Textiles in Kabwe, the largest textile plant in the country.
“The 7NDP identifies textile industry development as one of the quick win projects to accelerate wealth and job creation in the country. The government envisages that the revival of Mulungushi Textiles will provide ready market for cotton growers not only in this province but also the rest of the country. Further, it will create thousands of jobs along the value chain and contribute to the national treasury through taxes. Overall, the revival of the textile industry should help to attract investments in the province,” Chiteme said.
However, in the run-up to the August 11, 2016 general elections campaigns, President Edgar Lungu, as a political publicity stunt, officially ‘re-opened’ Mulungushi Textiles on August 1 in a frantic effort to rekindle his re-election bid that was waning.
The President further promised that the plant which had been defunct for about 10 years would create more than 20,000 jobs over the next five years.
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and its partners, according to President Lungu, would mobilise and invest an initial US$15 million in cutting edge technology and rehabilitation of the firm.
But after six months of the nominal re-opening, Kabwe district commissioner Dominic Mulenga on February 3, 2017 announced the indefinite closure of Mulungushi Textiles, saying the biggest prospective employer of the former mining town needed to undergo renovations.
The plant remains closed to date.
And the minister noted that the government had identified reducing developmental inequalities as one of the pillars.
“To reduce developmental inequalities, one of the strategies is the promotion of integrated rural development,” Chiteme underscored.
He added that Central Province, like all other provinces, was key to the development of Zambia.
“The province has great potential in a number of economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism. Additionally, it has an abundance of natural resources and favourable climate for agriculture, opportunities for agro-processing, easy proximity and accessibility to markets owing to its central geographical location,” Chiteme said at the event that was graced by Vice-President Inonge Wina.
“This investment expo will provide an opportunity for local and foreign investors to acquaint themselves with the investment potential in the province. Further, the expo will help mobilise financial resources for investment in strategic economic sectors.”
Chiteme urged both local and foreign investors to invest in various sectors in Central Province.
“Similarly, let me reiterate that government will continue to provide a conducive environment to ensure that your investments are not only safe but also viable,” said Chiteme.