Sunday, February 20, 2011
By David Chongo in Mufumbwe
Sun 20 Feb. 2011, 03:59 CAT
NORTH Western Province has moved from being a backward region to the country’s driving engine, says finance minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane.
Dr Musokotwane said though historically North Western Province was considered undeveloped compared to other provinces, it had assumed a pole position of economic importance by attracting investment which had helped the country achieve 7.1 per cent economic growth by last year.
“The North Western is changing dramatically. For many years the province was considered to be Cinderella, undeveloped, backward and lagging behind. As we speak today North Western is the locomotive of economic development for Zambia,” said Dr Musokotwane in Mufumbwe on Thursday.
He said in a few years, the region would receive more foreign direct investment in mining of iron ore following positive prospects of the mineral in the province.
Dr Musokotwane reiterated that within the next two years the government would complete the tarring of the Mutanda-Chavuma road which is currently under construction.
He said the road was an important link to countries on the western side and would help in the export of agricultural produce especially to Angola where the market for farm products had good returns.
Dr Musokotwane said the government was emphasising diversification in the region by encouraging agriculture as evidenced by plans to revive the Mwinilunga cannery for processing of pineapples.
He said the government was considering a third route connecting the province to the rest of the country by a road linking Kasempa to Kaoma then Mongu on to Sesheke.
And during the official opening of a Cavmont Bank agency in Mufumbwe, Dr Musokotwane observed that the accessibility of rural communities to banking services was significantly low in Zambia.
He said North Western Province, which accounted for 5.5 per cent of the country’s population, only had 3.5 per cent share of banking services whereas, according to a Bank of Zambia/Finscope survey, Lusaka and Copperbelt were at more than 60 per cent.
Dr Musokotwane said the government would expedite the connection to the national power grid of Mufumbwe up to Chavuma in order to attract more businesses to the area.