By Nawa Mutumweno – The once-cinderella province of Zambia, North-Western, has been ‘re-branded’ since the ‘invasion’ of this rural economy by Kansanshi mine, the kingpin of the Canadian mining great, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) a few years ago.
It is said that corporate entities should not only derive profits from the communities in which they operate but should plough back some of these rewards into these areas in order for seeds of development to germinate.
This is one arena where the mine scores high marks with the launch of the Kansanshi Foundation four years ago which has changed the economic landscape of Solwezi, the provincial capital and beyond.
Kansanshi Foundation, a non-profit making organization funded by the Kansanshi mine board to upgrade physical and social infrastructure, has budgeted $6.1 million for the year 2010/2011, its biggest ever since its launch four years ago, according to the mine’s public relations manager, Godfrey Msiska.
The mine, which has previous pumped money into education, health, social welfare, water and sanitation, has prioritized various projects which include the construction of the foundation’s Trust School in the new development area at a cost of $4.9 million.
“This will be a fee-paying school which will eventually cater for 1, 000 pupils from Grade One to Grade 12. Fees will be reasonable and the public will be free to send children to our schools,” Mr. Msiska elaborated.
Other project encompass the $40 000 Kyafukuma Community Livelihood Project to cover fish and poultry farming and irrigated vegetable farming; purchase and installation of kitchen equipment at Solwezi Technical High School ($2 600); construction of a health post and staff houses at Israel Resettlement costing $136 000.
The mine will construct one classroom block and two teachers’ houses at Israel Community at the cost of $370 000, rehabilitate Solwezi Prison Clinic ($22 000), construct a health post and staff houses in Muzabula ($136 000), complete and equip 14 water wells in various rural communities in Solwezi District ($47 000).
Other projects in the pipeline include the construction of two foot bridges astride of Solwezi River at a cost of $61 000, building of a new bridge on Kyafukuma/Lexus Road ($145 200) and Solwezi General Hospital Phase One of rehabilitation work estimated at $200 000.
It is envisaged that Kansanshi would eventually spend about $1.5 million on Solwezi General Hospital renovations and upgrade to be funded and managed in collaboration with the provincial health office.
What is more, Kansanshi has secured an initial batch of 584 plots and 53 hectares to provide for the Central Business District (CBD) and a 2 400 X 150 metre ‘Greenbelt’ from Solwezi Municipal Council at a cost of K1.9 billion. The long-term plan is for the mine to acquire up to 2 000 plots on which to build staff houses.
“This K1.9 billion payment brings the total sum of money paid by Kansanshi Mining Plc to the Solwezi Municipal Council between January 2008 and August 2010 to K12.5 billion. Of this sum, K10.6 billion is in the form or rates,” Mr. Msiska added.
Kansanshi has since won resounding accolades from the North-Western Council of Elders for the approval of this colossal $6.1 million (K30 billion) budget for infrastructure development in the district for 2010/2011.
“This is what we expect from the mines. Kansanshi has approved a K30 billion budget and Lumwana mine is also putting in a lot and if they continue like this, we will have no quarrels with them,” Council of Elders ‘ chairperson Lucas Chikoti said.
Indeed if all companies could be good corporate citizens, development is Zambia would no longer be a fleeting illusion but a reality that all yearn for.