A lot has been said about this tourism resort but very little has been done to realize the immerse potential which if fully developed could create thousands of jobs and reduce poverty levels in this country.
The MMD administration left in place a policy document known as “Kasaba bay development resort project”, which the PF government either sidelined or paid very little attention to and yet this is a very rich document in terms of developing Kasaba bay into an international tourism leisure resort.
The former MMD minister of finance Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane in one of his speeches to Parliament on the tourism potential of Kasaba bay, summarized the MMD vision for Kasaba bay when he said that ‘the MMD vision for Kasaba bay was that by 2017 the MMD administration wanted to see Kasaba bay having an international airport, with two or three five star hotels, with shopping malls, banking facilities, a course golf etc.
The former Minister added and said by 2019, the Commonwealth Heads of state summit, the African Union Heads of state summit, or other similar high profile international conference could be invited to hold their meetings at Kasaba bay. The former Minister went on and said that if such facilities were in place and the country managed to invite international dignitaries to have their meetings at Kasaba bay, his wish was that, all food stuffs for delegates to such conferences such as eggs, fish, meat, rice, chicken, vegetables, milk etc would be supplied by farmers from within Luapula and Northern provinces to boost the local economies of these provinces. What a vision? The scriptures says “ without a vision people perish”.
I want to salute the MMD administration for this vision. Apart from leaving a policy document in place, the MMD also had a vision for Kasaba bay. Does the PF administration have a vision for Kasaba bay? If they don’t have, why not borrow the MMD vision?
YES, the former PF minister of finance Mr Alexander Chikwanda in 2012 told Parliament that PF vision was to move tourism concentration from Livingstone to Northern Circuit. Many of us applauded the Minister and the PF administration over this pronouncement. However, four(4) years down the line this PF pronouncement was and still remains a mere rhetoric.
The contractor engaged to upgrade Kasama airport into international airport has abandoned the project because government for the past two years has not paid him, and the contractor has been using his own resources. Where is there seriousness of PF government over their policy pronouncement? Hon Felix Mutati MP and current Minister of finance is on record of having said that 80 percent of works at Kasaba bay airport is complete and that only 20 percent is remaining. Was that a political statement or a fact? We are yet to see what the PF 2017 national budget will have for the Northern Tourism Circuit.
For those who have little knowledge about Kasaba bay- this is a tourism resort that has 80 kilometers long beach front, with probably some of the best beach sand in the world. This 80 kilometer beach front has been earmarked for hotels, lodges, shopping malls, banking facilities etc. Kasaba bay is a unique tourism site because of the Nsumbu game park and its probably the only beach in the world that has a game park.
Kasaba bay also has a unique feature, Peninsula like, 50 HA long piece of land protruding into Lake Tanganyika There are countries in the world that have reached high or middle income status whose economies only depend on sand beaches as their main attraction and income earner and contributing immensely to the economic growth those countries. Typical examples are some Caribbean countries along the Mediterranean sea and the Indian Ocean islands.
These only have the beaches as their major attractions but Kasaba bay has Nsumbu game park in addition to its beautiful beaches. Even the USA Hawaii Island and the Mexico’s Acapulco, which are some of the top world tourist destinations do not have what Kasaba bay offers. I want therefore to challenge the Minister of Tourism and Arts and the Provincial Minister for Northern Province to convene a special indaba for the development of just Kasaba bay. If these two Ministers are sincere, and worthy to hold those positions they are holding, let them respond to this challenge. We do not want any more rhetoric over the Northern Tourism Circuit. We want serious brains to spearhead the development of tourism in this part of Zambia. The MMD administration in their document the Kasaba bay resort tourism project and their vision as espoused by Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane had a clear viability of this project and how Kasaba bay alone could contribute to the economic growth of this country.
The 2015 Tourism Act is a very progressive piece of legislation and I want to salute the PF administration for putting in place such a law.
It is investor friendly. But that is just one thing. It is one thing to have a progressive law in place and quiet another for that law to work and benefit communities. With the recent clenched deal with IMF which is going to see government putting in place tough austerity measures, we may not expect much in the 2017 national budget on Kasaba bay- but we could use this investor friendly 2015 tourism Act to develop the tourism potential for Kasaba bay. For example there is provision in the Act, for private owned airports and Aerodromes. Government could lease both Kasama airport and Kasaba bay airports to foreign investors as a way of quickening the process of developing the Kasaba bay. His Excellency President Edgar Chinwag Lungu should also consider appointing an official at permanent secretary level who will be in charge of the Northern Tourism Circuit.
His Excellency the President should also consider relieving the Zambia tourism Board who are responsible for tourism marketing in the country and create a special tourism marketing agency for the Northern Tourism Circuit. This is because currently tourism marketing seem to be concentrated on Victoria falls at the expense of other tourism attractions.
Our officials at Zambia Tourism Board seem to have no idea of what Kasaba bay offers and what contribution Kasaba bay can make to the economic growth of this country. We need a new approach to the marketing of Kasaba bay and the Northern Tourism Circuit in general.
If government can not persuade international investors to put up hotels and lodges at Kasaba bay, government could revisit the legislation governing Zambia Building Society, NAPSA and Workers Compensation who are already involved in the development of real estate, to invest in hotels and lodges at Kasaba bay.
I want to salute the His Excellency the President Mr Edgar Lungu for introducing ‘ performance based contracts’ for senior government officials. We want to see our Permanent Secretaries and District Commissioners working and doing the right thing.
Let me conclude my article by again appealing to the Minister of Tourism and Arts as well as the Provincial Minister for Northern province to convene an indaba on the development of Kasaba bay.
The Author is member of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and chairperson for the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection(JCTR) Kasama team. The Author is also recipient of world bank award in good governance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org