By CHILA NAMAIKO -
MORE than 3,000 jobs are expected to be created following the decision by Crowne Air Cargo to set up a regional cargo airline hub in Zambia, with an initial investment of US$500million.
Crowne Air Cargo chief executive officer Douglas Berry, a private investor who worked for the South African Airways for more than 20 years, said his company would put up a state-of-the-art cargo handling infrastructure at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA).
He said Crowne Air Cargo would create 212 direct jobs with 2,800 indirect jobs and would help to train local pilots into commercial pilots to manage large cargo planes.
Mr Berry said the cargo hub at KKIA would handle goods from distant areas such as Dubai, Belgium and Myanmar destined for other countries in and out of the African continent.
He said in Lusaka yesterday when he met Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba where he also handed over his business plan for the project, that Zambia’s central position in the region was important for setting up of an airline cargo business.
“Zambia is the perfect place for doing business. We have already secured the capital for this huge project of setting up a cargo hub for the region and we want to see this project commence,” he said.
He explained that all architectural plans for the project were already in place and the company was ready to commence works which would also attract more airlines into Zambia.
Mr Mushimba said the Government stood ready to support investors such as Crowne Air Cargo who could help to spur the country’s social and economic development.
The minister said the project by Mr Berry to make Zambia a regional air cargo hub was a welcome development.
He said the country needed to exploit its vantage geographical position by creating a hub for the region to bring more investments, and revenue for the Government.
Mr Mushimba said Zambia served as a gateway for investors targeting the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Great Lakes sub-regions.
He called for more investors to explore investment opportunities endowed in the country, especially that it had remained a peaceful nation with a stable economy.
The Government would ensure a more conducive atmosphere was created for the private-sector to invest as a way to help grow the country’s economy.
Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Emmanuel Mwamba, who was in the company of Mr Berry said foreign missions had shifted focus from politics and international relations to economic diplomacy.
Mr Mwamba said the mission remained committed to marketing Zambia’s investment prospects in line with President Edgar Lungu’s agenda to attract investors.