By Nawa Mutumweno – The Zambia-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ) is to attract 15 companies with a total investment of $2 billion to operate in the Chambishi Multi-facility Economic Zone (MFEZ) on the Zambian Copperbelt in the next five years.
In order to entice investors to plough money into the zone, ZCCZ plans to invest another $50 million in the MFEZ in the next five years to further develop infrastructure in the area.
So far 21 firms have invested over $1 billion since the establishment of the zone five years ago.
Companies that have already pledged investment in the zone include the first ever copper foil plant with a total investment of $400 million, ZCCZ general manager Zan Baosen has disclosed.
Other investment is a new copper smelter with an investment of $300 million while its second stage expansion will cost $200 million.
A mining equipment manufacturer has pledged $40 million while Stanbic Bank and other service providers will soon open branches in the zone.
The Chambishi MFEZ is being developed by China Non-Ferrous Metals Mining Corporation, which is the largest Chinese investment in Zambia.
ZCCZ is determined to replicate the success story of economic zones in China, which has in the last 30 years turned the country into the second largest economy globally.
‘’Our aim as ZCCZ is to build the most favourable investment platform in Africa and Zambian investors are free to entre and start operating within the zone.
Economic diversification is paramount to the country with the ZCCZ having been pushing for investments in manufacturing over the past few years that will contribute to the stable and sustained development of the two countries (Zambia and China).
‘’Five years ago, when the zone was established, there were only five enterprises employing 2 500 local workers. Today, we are talking of 21 companies employing more than 7 000 locals with a total investment of $1 billion. Our investment in infrastructure has reached $150 million,’’ he elaborated.
It is important for the country to maintain a stable macro-economic environment since without investors in the zone, it will be difficult for ZCCZ and other developers to recoup their investments.
‘’The success story of the MFEZ in China is associated with support from central and local government. The MFEZ, in turn, rewards such support with jobs, economic growth, empowering youths and technological transfer,’’ he added.
MFEZ development needs support from Government not merely through incentives but also through public education on the benefits accrued from the facilities.
The withdrawal of tax incentives for MFEZ and revising of the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Act will not just reduce revenue collection but also discourage potential new comers in the zone.
‘’Stable Government policy and laws is a prerequisite for investors to convince the financial institutions worldwide to pledge any bank loan,’’ he advised.