—- Government says it remains committed to opening up rural areas for greater economic development.
North-western province permanent secretary Amos Malupenga says it is for this reason that the PF government has embarked on a robust road and energy infrastructure development across the country.
Mr. Malupenga said energy infrastructure development has taken centre stage on the government agenda and that government through Indeni has completed the construction of a fuel reserve facility in North-Western province with a storage capacity of 15 million litters.
He said this has been done in recognition of the increasing level of economic activities in the province which has resulted in high demand for petroleum products.
Mr. Malupenga said the national consumption of petroleum products last year was around 52 million litres per month and is expected to increase by 40 percent this year.
The permanent secretary was speaking at the official opening of Kwasha Mukwenu filling station in Zambezi district yesterday constructed at a total cost of K2.6 million by Senior Chief Ishindi in partnership with Puma Energy Zambia.
He said the energy sector’s impact on the economy is so great in that it underpins the growth of the economy.
“The Zambian economy growth has averaged around seven percent in the recent past mainly driven by mining, construction and transport sectors but we must not lose sight of the crucial enabling role played by the energy sector,” he said.
Mr. Malupenga said this is why government through its agencies like the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) has taken keen interest in supporting private enterprises that want to take advantage of the conducive business environment to set up viable enterprises.
“Kwasha Mukwenu filling station is one such project where government through the CEEC is enabling Zambian citizens to take a much more meaningful role in economic activities that have significant bearing on development,” he said.
He said the various mining explorations taking place in North-Western Province cannot survive without reliable service stations.
Mr. Malupenga said the commissioning of a new service station in Zambezi will improve investor appeal in the area and help create both direct and indirect jobs for the local people.
He also thanked the CEEC for financing the project for the construction of a service station in Zambezi.
Speaking at the same occasion, Lunda-Lubanza vice chairman Smarts Mushinji expressed gratitude to the government for supporting the private sector .
Mr. Mushinji who spoke on who spoke on behalf of Senior Chief Ishindi said it was gratifying to note that government alleviating poverty through empowering local communities and small scale entrepreneurs with financial capital administered by CEEC.
Meanwhile, Puma energy territory manager for Copperbelt and North-Western Provinces Maluba Mubita said the company is happy to have partnered with Kwasha Mukwenu to construct a filling station in Zambezi.
Mr. Mubita said Puma energy remains committed to supporting government efforts of providing quality petroleum products closer to communities.
Earlier, North-Western Province CEEC coordinator Philip Daka said the commission will strive to provide effective development financial solutions for both rural and urban areas.
Mr. Daka said CEEC will promote equitable economic growth through supporting business enterprises that have a significant bearing on regional and national development.
“ Since 2013, our focus has been on supporting rural value chain based industries that are specific to districts and with this strategy, we hope to at least develop one value adding industry per district,” he said.
He also said CEEC is resolved to allocate 90 percent of its empowerment funds to rural areas in order to reverse previous regional inequalities.
Mr. Daka said CEEC wants to create an enabling environment for local enterprise to thrive in order to bring about job creation, indigenous wealth and increased productivity.