Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Elias Mubanga says government is implementing the Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Project Supporting Women and the Youth (SDEP-SWY) in the country.
Engineer Mubanga says Government is establishing the Industrial Yards with the purpose to accelerate the development and growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Zambia.
Speaking when he officially commissioned the Chipata Industrial Yard in Eastern Province, the Minister said the development of industrial yards was part of government’s programme and strategy to provide support to MSMEs by facilitating the development of suitable infrastructure to enable MSMEs conduct their businesses in a conducive environment.
“My Ministry, whose main responsibility is to foster the development and growth of MSMEs and cooperatives, is determined to ensure that there is growth of the economy and promotion of job creation.
“One of the avenues through which we intend to achieve this is through the facilitation of common infrastructure such as this industrial yard we are commissioning today,” he said.
Engineer Mubanga said the Chipata Industrial Yard would also serve as a center of excellence to support development of small businesses in the province, thereby contributing to the actualisation of Zambia’s strategy to promote economic diversification and the creation of more jobs for the people.
“The commissioning ceremony held here today is testimony of how the New Dawn Government’s development agenda is reaching all sections and regions of the country in an inclusive manner,” he said.
Mr Mubanga said his Ministry was working progressively to actualise the objectives of the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP) which was intended to unlock the country’s potential in all sectors of the economy for sustainable and all-inclusive national development by utilising and adding value to the local resources that Eastern Province was endowed with.
He acknowledged the role played by the African Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank Group as major development partners in the construction of the industrial yards.
“This is commendable and we encourage you to continue working together with the government for the growth of our economy and sustainable development,” Engineer Mubanga said.
And Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) board chairperson, Jason Kazilimani, said through the industrial yards, the Commission aspired to turn rural Zambian areas from districts of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity.
“This requires a total transformation of the provincial natural resources sector. At the core of this, there must be rapid rural industrialisation. We must not just focus on primary production but on development of district value chains. That way, Zambia, and Africa will turn from being at the bottom to the top of global value chains.
“Take the case of cocoa, how many of you know that Africa is why we have chocolates? Africa produces 75 percent of cocoa beans globally, but accounts for just 2 percent of the $100 billion global chocolate market. What is brain surgery in making chocolates? The price of cocoa beans always falls, but never the price of chocolates; the price of coffee beans always falls, but never the price of brewed coffee in cafes,” he said.
Mr Kazilimani said the CEEC had taken the step forward to use industrial yards as best practice centres for provincial SME development with export quality as the mantra taking into account, SME technical skills and management training, industrialisation and value addition.
“To put this into context, this Industrial Yard is located in Chipata district but its focus is on the unique natural resource endowment for value addition and industrialisation across the entire Eastern Province,” he said.
Mr Kazilimani said at the Chipata Industrial Yard, the industrial and value adding capacity could be attained through the processing of groundnuts grown in Katete and Chadiza, cotton ginning and textile with cotton originating from Lundazi, Kasenengwa and Chama districts.
“As well as rice processing produced in Chama. These will be considered as drivers of operations in the Chipata Industrial Yard. This approach is revolutionary. it will reduce wastage of natural resources, it will promote employment amongst women and the youth and it will decimate poverty in our homes,” he said.
Meanwhile, when giving a vote of thanks, chief Chinyaku of the Ngoni People in Chipata district, commended the government for spearheading development in his chiefdom.
He said the opening of the Industrial Yard will promote productivity levels among his people, especially the youth and women.
“This is a commendable job that government has done and please thank President Hakainde Hichilema on my behalf. At least we will not see most of the young men and women indulge in beer drinking and other illicit activities,” he said.
The traditional ruler said he wanted to see a lot of finished products processed from the people’s agriculture production.
“We must have our own products like cooking oil, peanut butter and other items produced locally from our agricultural produce,” Chief Chinyaku said.