UNIVERSAL Mining and Chemical Industries Limited (UMCIL), a major producer of steel in Zambia operating in Kafue, has called for the boosting of the local manufacturing base to help in strengthening the local currency.
UMCIL executive technical director Julius Kaoma said there was need to boost the local manufacturing base to revamp the domestic economy and ultimately strengthen the Kwacha.
Dr Kaoma said in an interview that Zambia was losing a lot of money to import various products which was in turn adding a lot of pressure to the local currently.
He said steel was the backbone of any industry and that was why UMCIL, which was wholly owned by Zambians, had set up a plant in Kafue to boost the supply of the commodity locally to mitigate on imports.
Dr Kaoma said Zambians stood a greater chance of saving a lot of money if they were producing and consuming local products.
“For any job created in the steel industry, we can about create eight to 10 jobs elsewhere. UMCIL is employing 1,000 people at our plant in Kafue and it has already created 8, 000 people elsewhere. In terms of foreign exchange, we will be saving a lot of money.
“Imagine we are producing 120, 000 tonnes and the cost of one tonne of steel is about US$ 650 per tonne and when you multiply it with 120, 000, that will be a lot of money to impact on the economy and strengthen the Kwacha,” Dr Kaoma said.
He said UMCIL, which has a design capacity is 250, 000 tonnes per year, wanted to produce and promote locally steel products on the market to job opportunities for the local people.
Dr Kaoma said about two per cent of the company’s profits would be going to the community once the plant was fully developed as part of its corporate social responsibility.
And UMCIL sales manager Benjamin Belemu said his firm was committed to supplying quality steel products on the domestic market.
Mr Belemu said it was not true that Zambian products were of inferior quality as claimed by some investors and urged contractors to encourage people to buy local steel products to create jobs.
“Our materials have been used in the construction of hostels at University of Zambia (UNZA), Copperbelt University (CBU) as well as at Kitwe and Ndola Central Hospitals.
“The materials were also used in the construction of stadiums, Mongu Kalabo Bridge, several other bridges, shopping malls, houses, industrial buildings, Kafue Gorge power plant, Chiawa Bridge while negotiations are underway for the materials to be supplied for the Kazungula bridge project,” Mr Belemu said.