FOR any country to grow economically, it has to create a favourable climate to attract investment which creates new jobs and more development opportunities for citizens. Investors are important to a country because they establish new companies which increase incomes and more purchasing power to people, which in turn boost to an economy. Countries strive to attract foreign direct investment because it adds to the stock of capital, and the quantity of capital available to an economy is a crucial determinant of its productivity.
As such, investment in various sectors greatly contributes to economic growth of a country. In the case of Zambia, Government has been making tireless efforts to attract investment in different sectors of the economy, such as agriculture, mining, tourism, and manufacturing. With mining being Zambia’s economic mainstay, a lot of effort is made by Government to entice as many investors as possible in this sector, which is also the second largest employer after the civil service. Zambia is the world’s fourth largest producer of copper and holds six percent of the globe’s known reserves thereof. Copper and cobalt, as the country’s traditional exports, account for well over 70 percent of export earnings. And to continue advancing the mining sector,
Government offers numerous incentives to investors in this industry bearing in mind that investors create jobs for Zambians. Unfortunately, there is a tendency by some foreign investors to employ many people from their countries of origin, even for jobs that can ably be handled by Zambians.
Zambia has many well-trained professionals who should occupy most of the positions some investors give to expatriates, which should not be the case. So, the advice to investors in our mining sector by Minister of Mines and Minerals Development Paul Kabuswe is timely, and it should be taken seriously by all foreign companies that genuinely come to operate in Zambia.
Mr Kabuswe has told First Quantum Minerals to look within Zambia’s borders for engineers and employ them at its Enterprise Nickel Mine project in Kalumbila district instead of engaging expatriates. The US$250 million Enterprise Nickel Mine, which will be the largest producer of the strategic metal in Africa, was commissioned last week by President Hakainde Hichilema. This mine is projected to process four million tonnes of ore, produce about 28,000 tonnes of nickel per year, and is expected to create around 700 permanent jobs. With this gigantic investment in Kalumbila, Mr Kabuswe wants unlocking of Zambia’s mining industry to result in skills transfer among local engineers.
The minister’s encouragement is that investors in these mines should employ local engineers, which is something he has stated time and again. “Come through and employ our local engineers because we have a very professional Engineering Institution of Zambia with very good professionals. “I think they are ready to work because the capacity to run a mine is there with our local engineers,” he said.
The minister is right in every aspect because there is no way an investor can bring in a horde of expatriate workers where there is an abundance of professionals. This defeats the whole essence of investing in a country because other than contributing to national economic growth, investors also come to create employment for Zambians. Government offers numerous incentives to investors in various sectors of the economy in efforts to attract investment because of the jobs investors provide to the local people. Therefore, Mr Kabuswe’s guidance is not only for FQM but all foreign investors that come to set base in Zambia, and the minister’s counsel should strictly be heeded.
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