PRESIDENT Lungu yesterday cranked up the country’s economy with a directive for provincial administrations to come up with mechanisms to unlock potential.
The head of State says he will soon convene a meeting in Lusaka during which he will discuss with provincial ministers on how best they can unravel economic potential in their areas of jurisdiction.
He made the directive yesterday when he officially opened the first-ever Luapula Expo and Investment Conference.
President Lungu said Luapula will never be the same after the expo because the world will get to know the economic potential of the province.
“Luapula will not look back again because it’s going to develop. The province has potential for tourism, hydro-power, agriculture and agro forestry.
“We are walking the talk of development and we want Luapula to realise its potential and develop. It’s time to be in Luapula for investment,” he told investors.
President Lungu said it is envisaged that through the Luapula Expo, Zambia will forge various links with local and international investors.
He said the expo could not have come at a better time than now when the Patriotic Front government does not want to leave anyone behind in terms of development.
“I am confident that for the past two days, the expo has provided you with ideas to invest in various opportunities,” he said.
The President said the seven key areas of investment have been identified by the provincial leadership which include agriculture, tourism and energy, among others.
President Lungu is happy the province has attached great focus to the manufacturing industry.
He is equally happy that traditional leaders have not been left out by the provincial leadership in the programme.
He said Zambia is blessed with abundant resources, hence the need to unlock the economic potential in every corner of the country.
The President said this is the only way the country can deliver a diversified, inclusive and equitable development that ensures active participation by citizens.
He is hopeful that other provinces will emulate Luapula by vigorously marketing their economic potential.
“My hearty congratulations are in order to Luapula Province for leading the way in the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan, whose goal is to create a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and socio-economic transformation. This transformation is driven by, among others, a new focus on agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and mining and ensuring that no-one is left behind,” President Lungu said.
He said his Government’s vision is to ensure that Zambia has a robust private sector-led economy and that the expo has provided a viable platform.
“Through the implementation of sound policies and measures, our economy is now witnessing a stable and favourable exchange rate, single-digit inflation, and commodity prices such as mealie-meal prices falling, companies with challenges such as Kawambwa Tea Estates and some mining houses are re-emerging and employing our people.
“Mealie-meal prices have dropped to just over K60 per 50kg of breakfast while the Kwacha is now trading below K9 per dollar, appreciating by over 80 percent in the last two years.
“I am focusing my efforts at consolidating these economic gains and ensuring that this translates in real-life gains for the majority of our people, especially the poor,” President Lungu said.
United Nations (UN) resident co-ordinator Janet Rogan said the Luapula Expo is a demonstration of energy, commitment and imagination.
Ms Rogan said the province has huge potential to turn around the nation in terms of development.
“Innovation is good for development. What is holding the people backwards? There are 15 million Zambians and so 15 million reasons to come together and develop Zambia,” she said.
Luapula Province Minister Nixon Chilangwa said the region is open for investment in agriculture, fish, tourism and energy, among others.
Mr Chilangwa said the expo came at a time when Zambia has just launched its Seventh National Development Plan.
The expo is aimed at unlocking the economic potential of the least developed province in the country.
The six-day conference has attracted over 750 local and international delegates with over 60 exhibitors.