Luano On Economic Growth Path

THE declaration of Luano as a separate district from Mkushi in late 2012, set into motion frantic Government efforts to accelerate development in the newly created town.

The Government then wasted no time in laying foundations for developing Luano District as this was evidenced in the deployment of staff to man Government departments and funding construction of social infrastructure such as roads, schools, clinics, Police posts and grain storage sheds.

Despite Government’s determination to leave no stone unturned in the quest to develop Luano District, the one ‘stone’ that can not be turned over is the fact that the Mkushi and Luano districts are intricately linked in a relationship of ‘parent’ and ‘offspring’.

As the two districts were once a single locale, it becomes imperative for each to learn from the successes, challenges, and potentials of the other a situation that places the parent and the child in the same classroom.

Before the two districts separated, their combined population during the 2010 population census was 152,000, when 116,000 were counted on the Mkushi side and 36,000 on the Luano side.

Mkushi today is experiencing the challenge of town expansion owing to its recent growth in population, and the District Council has been trying to conclude negotiations with traditional leaders such as Chief Chitina, for Land for projects that fall under Local Government jurisdiction.

“The district council has no more land for expansion and we have been hopeful that negotiations with Chief Chitina will yield a positive outcome soon,” says Mkushi District Council Secretary Everty Ng’andu.

Mr Ng’andu explains that the radius of land currently owned by the council is less than half of the 30km radius that is stipulated as the standard under the Town Planning Act, adding that the council has been negotiating with Chief Chitina for 1,000 hectars from the Myafi Forest expanse.

According to Luano District Council’s deputy director of works Elias Mwalaba, Chief Kaneshya of Luano District had given 3,400 hectars of land to Luano’s local authorities in the Old Mkushi area that was selected to host the Luano Boma.

The prevailing situation pertaining town planning in the two districts may jolt Luano into learning from the Mkushi experience by taking into consideration plans that envision the effects of population expansion planning that envisions a Boma area that is likely to have increasing population in its residential, commercial and office areas.

Recently, Mkushi District youth coordinator Bright Mumba, revealed that barely 40 per cent of the existing 48 Youth Groups of the district, had registered with relevant authorities such as the Registrar of Societies.

This situation is not far removed from the factors that can drive the development of Luano District as nearly 17,000 of the 36,000 Luano population falls under the youth bracket (according to the 2010 census combination of Chingombe, Nkmashi,Munda, Kamimbya, Chipaba, Mwalala Wards ).

During the 2014 Youth Day commemorations in Mkushi, Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry Emmanuel Chenda singled out the importance of having high percentage of youth entrepreneurship as being among the drivers of the economy of a district.

Mr Chenda had then elaborated on the many positive outcomes that Government was aiming to achieve by tackling challenges such as unemployment, poverty and economic diversity through sustained Government initiatives that will empower Youths namely the Youth Development Fund and the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission.

Relevant authorities in Luano District are ill aised to ignore the revelations made by Mr Mumba, because the youth groups in the new district should be expected to be ‘more hungry’ to register formally and seek empowerment from the Government to boost their activities.

The situation pertaining to organisation and formal registration of youth groups is worrisome in Mkushi, and likely to be worse in the new district that has just begun coordination of youth matters from scratch.

Various schools of economics acknowledge in principle that the presence of localised industry brings with it several aantages.

“when an industry is highly localised, subsidiary industries grow up to cater for the needs of the major industry,” says British economic academician John Hanson, formerly senior lecturer in charge at Huddersfield Polytechnic.

In the case of Mkushi, the presence of Green Belt Fertiliser Company, which is known to be processing many types of fertilisers for various crops, has had an anchoring effect on the dynamics of agriculture inputs in the district.

Farmers, Agro crop processing companies and transporters seem to feed off Green Belt’s activities, as much as Green Belt is dependent on them as outlets for its market.

Not discounting the jobs created for Mkushi residents, many would agree that it would be in Luano’s interest to attract large-scale industries that can propel similar anchoring effect on the socio-economic well being of the new district.

“Large-scale investors to tap the potential for fishing, timber and the mining industry can give Luano a great leap forward in short to medium term,” observed Luka Mwamba, who was then Luano District Commissioner.

Mr Mwamba’s observations were clearly in tandem with Professor Hanson’s on qualifying the availability of abundant raw materials as a factor for localisation of industry.

Mkushi has the Hi-qua Lime Company that supplies the lime that is gaining much prominence in the practice of conservation farming methods, owing to the presence of raw materials in Munsakamba area.

In the same vein regarding abundant raw materials, water bodies such as the Lunsemfwa River in Luano District are said to have great potential for medium to large-scale fishing industry, in as much as the ‘virgin woodland’ forests of the valley chiefdoms of Mboroma, Chembe and Mbosha have potential to exploit the timber industry.

Luano DC Christopher Chibuye stated during a 2012 Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA) forum, that according to data stored at the Mkushi District administration, Luano had more mining potential than its ‘parent’ district as it had a wider variety of mineral ore and gemstones.

Mr Chibuye said wealth in minerals would only reflect in Luano District if well established investors took up the mantle in exploiting this wealth to transform the outlook of the district through various corporate social responsibility projects.

The irony of developmental efforts for Mkushi and Luano Districts being intricately linked, goes beyond the relation of ‘parent’ and ‘child’ attending the same lessons in the same classroom. — ZANIS

Source : The Times of Zambia

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