The Post Online, January 28, 2011

FORMER commerce permanent secretary Davidson Chilipamushi says Copperbelt towns have remained depressed although they account for a large share of the country’s GDP and generate over two-thirds of the country’s foreign exchange.

And Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) international chairman Love Mtesa says the organisation has expanded its scope and interventions on subjects such as good governance, social accountability, trade and development, economic and business regulations.

During a CUTS organised workshop to launch the Better Exploration of Trade as a Means for Poverty Reduction BETAMPOR project in Kitwe, Chilipamushi said economic infrastructure still remained very poor despite huge economic gains as a result of high copper production.

“The fact of the matter is that Zambia is among the 50 poorest countries on earth but we’re saying there is economic boom but the towns look the same as they were 20 years back, even worse,” Chilipamushi said. “Although statistically the Copperbelt accounts for a large share of the country’s GDP and generates over two-thirds of the country’s foreign exchange, it is clearly visible that there is nothing to show for it; the towns remain depressed as no real infrastructure has been developed.”

Chilipamushi, who is now a senior lecturer in the School of Business at Copperbelt University, said the towns’ ability to maintain even the existing structures seem to be diminishing as no new revenue was being collected from the flourishing mines.

He suggested that the revenue coming from the mines be given to the local authorities for development projects.“…Maybe under councils the revenue could go a long way to improve on the outlook of the depressed towns,” Chilipamushi said. He said diversification efforts away from the dependency on copper to the promotion of non-traditional exports must be supported.

Chilipamushi added that the diversification initiative would help in keeping the money within the province and also assist in reducing unemployment and high poverty levels.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Mtesa said the mission of the organisation was to function as a resource co-ordination centre as well as networking centre in order to promote South-South co-operation on trade and development by involving state and non-state actors.

“At international level, because of its abundant expertise, CUTS is working very closely with developing countries in helping them with research on trade and economic related issues which they need in their trade negotiations in Geneva at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Brussels and the EU negotiations on EPAs,” said Ambassador Mtesa.

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