By DOROTHY CHISI-
FROM its initial establishment in 2012, Wonderful Group of Companies has grown as a Zambian industrial investment which has had an impact on both livelihoods of local people as well as the country’s economy.
As a company, Wonderful Group has established, pioneered and managed green field manufacturing establishments.
The establishment now has four fully operational businesses namely Marcopolo Tiles Company, Mupika Sericulture and Silk Company and United Capital Fertlizer Company.
Wonderful Group chief executive officer Roy Mwamba said the investments have resulted in creation of over 1,700 direct jobs and over 5,000 indirect jobs up and down the value chain.
He said the various investments have also made significant contribution to the national treasury in form of direct and indirect taxes, as well as fees.
Mr Mwamba said Wonderful Industry Company Zambia Limited was the first to be established in 2011, with a vision of contributing to job creation, upscaling wealth through import substitution and value addition for export markets.
He said the company’s mission was to make Zambia the export hub for all of its products within the Central and Southern Africa region.
Mr Mwamba said the company currently has over 600 employees.
He said plans had reached an advanced stage for Wonderful Industry Zambia Limited to start producing new products, such as tents, potato and paper bags.
Mr Mwamba said this would make the company the first to produce these products locally.
He said the investment in new product lines would cost US$11.3 million and create 250 new jobs.
Mr Mwamba said Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited was the first integrated tile and sanitaryware manufacturing company in the country.
It was also the first to produce porcelain tiles in the region.
Mr Mwamba said the company produces high quality ISO 9001:2015 certified products for interior and exterior decoration.
“The company was primarily established to venture into research, development, production and distribution of high quality porcelain tiles and sanitaryware for interior and exterior decorations,” he said.
He said the market was segmented around wholesale and retail markets.
Marcopolo products, which have gained a good reputation in Zambia, have also been well received in the region where the company exports indigenous Zambian made tiles.
Since its inception, Marcopolo Titles has seen its brand grow from strength to strength.
The company uses local materials to manufacture world class products that compete favourably in both the local and export markets.
Mr Mwamba said the complete import substitution, coupled with veritable value addition, job creation and skills transfer, are at the heart of Marcopolo Tiles operations.
He said most of the key production and operational functions are carried out by local staff in Zambia, which is a great milestone in the company’s operations and strategic plan.
Mr Mwamba said the company follows a vertically integrated business model to ensure quality control at every stage of the value chain, with 95 per cent of raw materials being sourced locally.
“The company takes pride in its ability to merge local content with global standards, and local content enhancement with value addition being at the heart of its operations,” he said.
Another milestone that has been achieved by Wonderful Group of Companies is the establishment of the Mupika Sericulture Company Zambia Limited, an investment that was established in 2020 to produce high quality silk fabric for export.
The silk making company is located in Mpika district.
The investment includes mulberry plantation farms for feeding silkworms and production facilities for processing silkworm cocoons into silk fabric.
The initial investment was US$10 million, which resulted in an initial 300 workers being employed.
Trial production commenced in June this year.
The official launch of the factory is scheduled for next month.
“In 2022, US$15 million will be invested into Mupika Sericulture in order to expand the plantation to 3,000 hectares of mulberry trees and increase production facilities. The additional investment will result in 3,000 additional workers being employed,” Mr Mwamba said.
In response to the high cost of fertiliser in Zambia, a new investment has been established, which seeks to produce fertilizer directly from local raw materials, particularly coal.
According to Mr Mwamba, current fertiliser factories produce the commodity from raw materials imported from outside the country.
However, United Capital Fertilizer Company Zambia Limited will be the first company to produce fertilizer straight from locally sourced coal.
The new plant will lead to a reduction in the price of fertiliser by 50 per cent within 18 months of it starting production.
The plant will have a state of the art integrated cross-circuit production process, such that there will be no emission of either smoke or gasses.
Mr Mwamba said the smoke will be converted into a gas by-product, for which the company already has a captive market.
He said the gas produced in the production process and other by-products, such as ammonia bicarbonate, could be used in the production of fire extinguishers and baking powder.
Mr Mwamba said the company will be producing ammonia that will be supplied to Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), and that the raw materials were currently imported.
“Currently, every fertilizer manufacturing company in Zambia imports raw materials, mostly from South Africa. The new plant would be producing ammonia as a by-product, which will reduce the importation of these raw materials from South Africa,” Mr Mwamba said.
The revolutionary investment will cost an estimated US$308 million and will create over 1,100 jobs.
Mr Mwamba said the premises for the factory had already been secured and significant progress has been made in securing the Environmental Impact Assessment by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).
Besides running its business ventures, Wonderful Group of Companies has also been working towards improving the local communities in which it operates.
The company has constructed a state of the art mini hospital in Malcolm community which will come with theatre equipment worth US$200,000.
Mr Mwamba said the Wonderful Group values the local community which is part of the company’s key partner and stakeholder that should be made to feel as comfortable since the local people are part of the company’s success story.
He said the company allocated a specific amount of money for projects.
This money is not tied to any specific project in a specific year.
“This year, the projects targeted projects are the construction of the mini hospital and water system whilst last year, we targeted the construction of the police post and connection of the local community to the Zesco power grid,” he said.
The group of companies, through the Marcopolo Tiles Company Limited, early this year handed over a newly built police post and three Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles all valued at K3 million to the Zambia Police Service.
The police post will help to maintain law and order in the surrounding Malcolm community of Lusaka West, which has had no police services since it was established over 30 years ago.
The characteristics of the above investments made in the last 10 years, as well as the planned investments over the three years totalling more than US$370 million demonstrate the long term investment commitment that Wonderful Group of Companies has made in Zambia.
These commitments are anchored on job creation, value addition, wealth creation and retention through industrialisation.