Lafarge’s decision to increase cement production capacity from 1 million tonnes to 2.5 million tonnes per annum at its Chilanga plant in Lusaka will directly benefit the construction sector and the entire economy, President Edgar Lungu has said.
He has since called upon management to employ and train as many Zambians as possible at its new plant.
Mr Lungu said this yesterday in a speech delivered on his behalf by Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe during the laying of the foundation stone at the site of Lafarge’s new plant.
“The construction sector continues to register growth every year, and so we welcome Lafarge’s expansion which will directly benefit the sector and the entire economy. It is said that the growth of the construction sector is a barometer of a country’s economic performance,” he said.
President Lungu also said Lafarge’s intentions of adding an additional 100, 000 tonnes of cement per annum at its Ndola plant was not an accident but a sign of confidence which the company had in the Zambian economy, its people and the Government’s policies.
“I wish to take this opportunity to invite new investments to Zambia. No doubt renewed investment by the existing investors is a sure way to achieve this, but I also invite new companies to emulate Lafarge and come and invest in Zambia,” he said.
Mr Lungu said Government was in a hurry to develop the nation and that it was committed to creating jobs, improving the lives of the community and developing an educated workforce.
Meanwhile, Mr Lungu has urged Lafarge and other companies to focus on improving their corporate social responsibility in the country.
Mr Lungu said although many companies were paying tax and employing many Zambians, it was corporate social responsibility that had developed many thriving communities in the world.
“Government alone cannot effectively achieve this, it involves companies having long term plans to develop their communities that bring about this improvement in the welfare of local communities, especially in areas where they operate,” he said.
And Lafarge Zambia chief executive officer, Emmanuel Rigaux, said the firm had decided to more than double the capacity of the Chilanga plant from 1 million tonnes of cement per annum by constructing an additional new line.
“The project team has mobilized experts from everywhere in the group, and the construction will start in the next few weeks upon obtaining regulatory permits. The new line is expected to be completed within the next 18 months,” he said. Mr Rigaux said Lafarge’s priority was not only in equipment and production capacities but also in people. He said Lafarge was committed to investing in Zambia for a long time.