By Davis Mulenga –
Spin-OFF investments running in billions of Kwacha are among the many things going right at Kalumbila, 150 kilometres west of Solwezi where First Quantum Minerals (FQM) is constructing Africa’s largest and technologically advanced open-cast mine.
FQM’s Kelvin Thomas and his team driving the town development at Kalumbila are inundated with investor interest ranging from manufacturing, retail, construction, mining services and others.
“That phone has not stopped ringing. We have a Belgium-based company that wants to set up a $100 million truck assembly plant. We also have huge retailers, banks, agro processing firms and others queuing up to be part of the investment opportunity Kalumbila offers,” says Thomas.
“At stake to realise these investments, potentially in billions of kwacha, is land title,” he stresses.
To demonstrate how well-positioned Kalumbila is, he quickly plays up some numbers indicating current direct employment at 2000 with indirect at 1000 while multiplier jobs are projected at more than 6000. At the current trajectory, the numbers are likely to reach 50,000 within five years.
Setting up a multi-facility economical Zone (MFEZ) by FQM under-pins the attraction and retention of the potential spin-off local and international investments.
“The MFEZ provides no direct benefit to FQM, but it stands to encourage local and international businesses to develop in the new town. This is good for local procurement and regional development, and will generate its own multiplier employment.
“The application to ZDA for MFEZ status is well advanced. Zero tax rate and import duties on raw materials, capital goods and machinery for the first five years are some of the incentives the MFEZ will offer.”
The MFEZ will also facilitate increased home ownership with zero VAT on home purchase passed through to the homeowner.
“This is arguably the best opportunity to get in on the ground floor of new sustainable town,” adds Thomas.
The envisaged town, whose plan was approved by Solwezi District Council in March 2011, was designed by Zambians in collaboration with international experts. In the second quarter of 2013, the Zambia Environmental Development Agency (ZEMA) signed off on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Will it be called Kalumbila Town? That is decision left to local communities and relevant local government authorities.
That fact has not deterred Thomas and his team towards getting a critical piece of getting the town off the ground land title.
Davis Mulenga is a public relations specialist, and FQM is one of the clients he serves.