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First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has welcomed Government’s decision to engage the mining firm in dialogue to designate the long-awaited Kalumbila Multi-Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ).

Zambia’s largest taxpayer believes that once operational, the economic zone will bring about enhancement of local supplier competitiveness, not just in Kalumbila District, but in North-Western Province and beyond.

First Quantum has invested over US$90 million in planning and development of Kalumbila Town. And the MFEZ application has been awaiting approval through a Statutory Instrument that will enable Kalumbila Town to realise its long-sought-after economic growth potential.

Town growth has been slower than planned due to the sluggish release of land titles and delays in the approval of the Multi-Facility Economic Zone status, which has affected third party private sector development uptake.
However, speaking during the Economic Transformation Conference hosted by the Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) recently, His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema said that his government would give support to the economic zones because they add value.

“Economic zones are not a new thing. This government will support the economic zones. So, I would say yes, we’ll give support to the economic zones there (Kalumbila). They have their value,” he said.

The Head of State further said that government planned to establish partnerships with the private sector to take account of prudence in the utilisation of limited resources.

“While we have broader policy direction, vision, and specific policies, let us be transactional as well. Meaning that we are specific, drilling down those issues that ordinarily maybe governments do not like to deal with. Most governments like to deal with generalities, and they get away with it.”

“Government has given you its vision, you have looked at it for many years. Given you their policies, you have looked at those policies over the years. Voters approved our policies, now let us have transactions,” he continued.

In 2014, 68 businesses had expressed investment interest to Kalumbila Town Development Corporation with a total combined investment of US$100 million which would result in the creation of nearly 1,700 jobs in the immediate aftermath.

This has not been realised due to the delays in approvals. Currently, many mine and contractor employees continue to travel to Solwezi to access goods and services due to their non-availability in Kalumbila Town.

First Quantum Minerals Country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli said the designation of the Kalumbila industrial park as an MFEZ would enhance trade and job creation in North-Western Province while also promoting the area as an attractive foreign investment destination.

“The MFEZ will have a huge impact on the proliferation of medium to large industries in Kalumbila and the rest of the province while also increasing job opportunities through spin-off commercial activities in the region,” he said taking cognisant of the new MFEZ incentives proposed in the 2022 national budget.

“As a corporate citizen committed to bringing development into the areas where we operate, the designation will be a step in the right direction as this will support the growth of business in the area, which in turn will spur more investment due to the multiplier effect.”

He noted that stalling the approval of the long-awaited license of the Kalumbila MFEZ and removal of most of the original incentives under MFEZ came at the expense of investors like FQM who are ready to invest in infrastructure that would support the expansion of the US$2 billion Sentinel Mine.

“Investing in the MFEZ will have a trickle-down effect on local businesses, suppliers, and contractors alike. The economic zone will also help build a conducive environment for businesses and investors to flourish,” he added.
Gen. Chinkuli urged the Government to treat the matter with the urgency it deserved and expedite the approval process as a sign of good faith to investors and the Zambian people.

Since FQM set up its Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila district, the mining giant has invested billions in its operations as well as in providing social amenities like roads, schools, and hospitals.

The presence of the mine in the area has also led to off-shoot businesses in the areas of transportation, agriculture, hospitality, and other services catering to the needs of the mine and its employees.

SOURCE:Langmead & Baker Ltd

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