PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu yesterday officially opened Mulungushi Textiles in Kabwe with a pledge to create more than 20,000 jobs in the next five years.
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and its partners would mobilise and invest an initial US $15 million in cutting edge technology and rehabilitation of the textile plant which was closed about 10 years ago.
Speaking when he opened the plant, President Lungu said the revival of the industry would also increase the cotton value chain and expand exports to boost the country’s economy.
Apart from investing the US $15 million, the company would also establish a cotton outgrower scheme of more than 10,000 farmers in Kabwe, Kapiri Mposhi, Chibombo, Chisamba and Ngabwe districts.
President Lungu said the reopening of the textile factory was expected to earn the country the much needed foreign exchange.
He said there was need to take advantage of the plant being at a central location for it has access to both local and international markets.
The head of state also called on small scale farmers to take advantage of the Mulungushi Textiles to access certified seed and increase production.
He noted that time had come for the country to embark on a crusade of embracing value addition and expressed gratitude that the revival of the textile firm was set to meet such aspirations.
“The rationale for my Government’s decision to revive operations at Mulungushi Textile Industries is there for all to see. It is not a secret that the reopening of this textile company provides the most significant opportunity for small scale farmers to engage in cash crops in line with our industrialization agenda,” he said.
The company has already employed about 300 people who had been doing preliminary works ahead of the reopening yesterday although the number is expected to reach more than 2,000 by December this year.
Mr Lungu pledged to resuscitate the cotton industry in Zambia as it provided employment to many people in the country.
He called on management at the firm to collaborate with the Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ), the Cotton Development Trust (CDT) and the Seed Control and Certification Institute (SCCI) for quality seed production to be offered on the market.
“To the people of Kabwe, the gallant men and women who have undergone 10 grueling years of suffering when this company closed in 2007, my Government will stand to support and expand the economic activities within the district,” he said.
The Head of State also thanked the Chinese government for handing over the Mulungushi plant to the Zambian Government in 1983. – (Times of Zambia)
By PASSY HAACHIZO and REBECCA MUSHOTA –