By Sylvester Chishimba
Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Elias Mubanga says Government is establishing the Industrial Yards with the purpose to accelerate the development and growth of small and medium enterprises in the country.
Speaking when he officially commissioned the Chipata Industrial Yard in Eastern Province, the Minister said the development of industrial yards is part of the Government’s programme and strategy to provide support to MSMEs owned by young people, women and men.
He said the industrial yards are one way of facilitating the development of suitable infrastructure to enable MSMEs to 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 the growth of the economy and promotion of job creation,” he said.
Mr Mubanga said the Chipata Industrial Yard will also serve as a centre of excellence to support the 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 a 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 is working progressively to actualise the objectives of the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP).
The 8NDP seeks 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 of provinces.
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,” Mr Mubanga said.
And Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) board Chairperson Jason Kazilimani the Commission aspires to turn rural areas from districts of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity through the industrial yards.
“This requires a total transformation of the provincial natural resources sector,” he said. “At the core of this must be rapid rural industrialisation. We must not just focus on primary production but on the development of district value chains,” he said.
He noted that industrialisation can move Zambia and other African countries 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,” Mr Kazilimani said.
He added that the CEEC has 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.
Mr Kazilimani urged for the industrial yard in Chipata to leverage the value-adding capacity 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 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, Chief Chinyaku of the Ngoni People in Chipata district commended Government for spearheading development in his chiefdom.
He said the opening of the industrial yard will promote productivity levels among his people, especially among the youth and women.
“This is a commendable job that the 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 that he wants to see a lot of finished products processed from agricultural production at the industrial yard.
“We must have our own products like cooking oil, peanut butter and other items produced locally from our agriculture produce,” Chief Chinyaku said.
PICTURE 1: Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Elias Mubanga and Chief Chinyaku of the Ngoni people in Chipata unveil a plaque during the commissioning of the Chipata Industrial Yard. PICTURE BY STEPHEN MUKOBEKO/ZANIS
PICTURE 2: Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Elias Mubanga and Chief Chinyaku of the Ngoni people in Chipata shake hands after unveiling the plaque during the commissioning of the Chipata Industrial Yard. PICTURE BY STEPHEN MUKOBEKO/ZANIS