VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says the government is open to dialogue and investors should be free to engage leadership whenever they feel there are policies that affect business promotion, or can promote business and investment. Vice-President Wina has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to diversify the Copperbelt Province economy from mono-sector dependence. National development planning minister Alexander Chiteme represented Vice-President Wina and launched the Copperbelt Investments Expo (CIEX) at Edgar Chagwa Lungu Convention Centre in Kitwe on Saturday night.
The Vice-President expressed satisfaction that the Copperbelt Investment Expo would expose and open up relatively new and unknown districts in the province.
“I am delighted to see how you have aligned your Investment Expo to the Seventh National Development Plan. This has been clearly spelt out in the way you have framed the theme for the Expo which is ‘Broadening the Copperbelt economy through diversified Investment’,” Vice-President Wina said, according to planning ministry spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba.
“Your areas of focus for investment also marries well with the sectors of focus at national level. This also includes your expected outcome of the Expo, that is diversification, job creation and poverty reduction.”
She said the government was open to dialogue and that whenever investors felt there were policies that affected business promotion, or could promote business and investment, they should be free to engage government leadership. Vice-President Wina advised local authorities in the province to pass by-laws that promote local economic development and attract investment.
“I call upon the local authorities, Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, our royal highnesses and all other service providers to be well prepared to offer the necessary support to our would-be investors,” she said. “Let not bureaucracy and red-tape make us lose out on investment from our investors. Where appropriate, strategise and make it easy for the investors to set camp.”
The Copperbelt Investment Expo is expected to spread development to the three rural districts of Lufwanyama, Mpongwe and Masaiti; enhance partnerships and linkages with local entrepreneurs through joint ventures and Private-Public-Partners; enhance awareness of the province to the outside world as a preferred destination for investment and increase job opportunities; and provide an avenue for skills transfer through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) within the province.
Copperbelt Province is about 31,328 square kilometres with 10 districts, about 1.97 million people and the population is expected to reach 2.6 million by next year, according the provincial administration.
The province’s contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) is about 29 per cent. Apart from mining, which is the mainstay of the economy, other areas of potential investment – according to the provincial administration – are agriculture, forestry and tourism. Copperbelt Province is one of the regions with high rainfall per annum.
Copperbelt Province minister Japhen Mwakalombe said the province would use the Expo to escalate its economic diversification. Mwakalombe appealed to local and international investors to explore the many investment opportunities, with high returns, that are available in the regional.