DR Congo, four others to benefit from Japanese plant in Zambia

Five African countries are set to benefit from the multi-million dollar Japanese high-tech plant, Hitachi, which will be stationed in the Zambian capital Lusaka.

Mineral rich Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique will access highly mechanised construction machinery that is vital for mining activities that dominates industries in Zambia and DR Congo plus the rest of the region.

A staggering US$ 15 million is being pumped into the project which the Zambian government has lauded after it created an initial 120 jobs.

There are another 40 placements for the local labour force on the way as a result of establishing the plant in Lusaka, which ranks as the biggest investment in Africa’s 54 states.

Therefore, Hitachi is expected to re-manufacture large-scale mining equipment and export to various countries in southern Africa.

Booming mining activities in DR Congo’s Southern Province of Katanga and Zambia’s North-Western Province stand to be among the biggest beneficiaries from the Japanese hi-tech company although the rest of the countries in the region will have an equal fair share.

Hitachi’s vice-president Yukio Arima was recently in Zambia to unveil the gigantic project revealing that Lusaka was selected after a long and tedious process that required extensive assessment of the continent.

Japan seldom ventures out to invest in Africa but Hitachi’s recent visit to Lusaka raises hope that one of the world’s most industrialized countries is partnering with a continent boasting of immense potential for its rich natural resources.

The business environment in Zambia also enticed the Japanese to finally settle for the capital city with their plant allocated massive land in a prime area, metres away from the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

Says Arima, “The government bodies made a lot of efforts to make this project a reality. We are now convinced that ZDA [Zambia Development Agency] is a trustworthy business partner.”

For finance minister Alexander Chikwanda the arrival of Hitachi gives an affirmation that investors have confidence in the Zambian economy.

Without a doubt, Chikwanda has asserted that the investment will benefit Zambia, as the country hosting the plant in more than one way, which includes the transfer of state-of-the-art technological skills.

Add to technological skill the benefits of foreign exchange that will come from exports of re-manufactured heavy equipment to other countries.

Chikwanda acknowledges that Japanese investment in Zambia is very low but the fact that Hitachi had announced its firm arrival was enough hope more of such was on its way.

“Tap into Zambia’s potential,” Chikwanda told the Japanese investors in Lusaka so as they would consider spreading their interest to in sectors like tourism, agriculture and manufacturing.

According to Hitachi Global website, the company was founded in 1910 and is one of the pioneers among global technology leaders.

As well as Lumwana Mine in Zambia’s North-Western, Hitachi has to this date supplied the world’s largest excavators to First Quantum Minerals and Konkola Copper Mines and Gercamines in Lubumbashi in DR Congo.

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Augustine Mukoka is a Zambian journalist with extensive experience covering developmental issues ranging from investment, politics and sports in the southern African nations since 2002. He has captured events around the booming construction industry in Zambia, the mining sector which is predominately anchored on copper production as the country’s economic mainstay and several investment projects. As a sports journalist, Augustine covered the 2006 (Germany) and 2010 (South Africa) FIFA World Cup and traveled extensively with the national team including to more than two Africa Cup of Nations, bringing out articles on how football is contributing to national development. He holds a diploma in journalism and public relations. Email: augustine.mukoka@africanbrains.org