By Staff Reporter
Lafarge Zambia’s legacy of contributing to the national and social economic wellbeing of Zambia was highlighted in a high level tour of the company’s operations this week.
His Excellency Mr Jankowski, Ambassador of the EU to Zambia and COMESA, His Excellency Mr Francois Goldblatt, French Ambassador to Zambia and COMESA, and the Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, Honourable Vincent Mwale expressed their appreciation of the role that Lafarge has played over the years and continues to play in the growth and development of the country, particularly regarding infrastructure development.
“It is a matter of pride to be here because the contribution of Lafarge to the economy, employment and the future development of the country is huge.
We are talking about hundreds and hundreds of employees, and foreign currency for Zambia through exports.
We are also talking about expertise, the company’s knowledge, and social responsibility as well. 30,000 Zambians, including direct and indirect workers and their families, are positively affected by what Lafarge is doing here,” said Ambassador Jankowski
His counterpart Ambassador Goldblatt noted how the company was a good example of how foreign direct investment can successfully and efficiently unlock the value of local resources. He pointed out that although there has been foreign direct investment injected in the company over the years, such as from the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) and the Lafarge Holcim Group in the company, Lafarge has remained a Zambian entity ingrained in the fabric of the country’s society.
Lafarge Zambia Plc was one of the first companies to be listed on the Lusaka Securities Exchange (LuSE) and has over 3,000 local shareholders, Lafarge Zambia Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Khan explained.
“I am very positively impressed by our visit here to Lafarge Company. First of all it is a success story of European investment in Zambia; this company has been here for more than 70 years and this company was growing together with Zambia so we see this very positive synergy between the country and the European investment.
And I am very pleased that this company produces here; this company is in Zambia; pays taxes in Zambia and exports from here, from Zambia to the countries in the region, so this is a very inspiring example for other foreign investors who would like to come and invest in Zambia and develop here in Zambia,” said Amb. Goldblatt.
Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Hon. Vincent Mwale said Lafarge was “a company that has a history in this country”.
“I think a lot of things I can look at constructed in this country – so much infrastructure – be it roads, buildings and so on – have been constructed using Lafarge cement or Chilanga cement, and so this is a company with a great history in the country, and the tour today has given me an assurance that we also have a great future ahead of us. I have seen for myself the expansion programme. I am also happy to see how seriously management takes safety issues for the workers and so very impressive what I have seen here.
“I am happy to see a great future; we have a great history with the company and now we are seeing a great future. This is exciting news for us and for me particularly as Minister of Infrastructure; I think that having companies like this one assures us of good quality buildings ahead of us.”
Hon. Mwale also urged the company to continue raising the bar in terms of the consistency of the quality of products coming out of Lafarge: “If you have quality products, if you have quality cement in this country then we are assured of quality buildings and this is really good. I am also happy to note that even neighbouring countries are appreciating the products that are produced here. Malawi, DRC, Zimbabwe and other countries such as Burundi are importing cement produced here, which is very good for the economy of this country. So I say bravo Lafarge, keep doing us proud and we will continue to give support to this company.”
Mr Khan thanked the two Ambassadors and the Minister for taking the time to appreciate and understand the operations of the company. And he reiterated that Lafarge Zambia has been and continues to be a part of the community and remains committed to positively contributing to the economic and social wellbeing of the country.
“I think a lot of the times – again because we are a commodity and we are not an FMCG and we are not really all over the place – people really don’t realise how we contribute and how we are a part of the circular economy in Zambia. So we are not only one of the biggest tax payers; I think we are the biggest non-mining customer of ZESCO; we are the biggest, I believe, customers of Zambia Railways; additionally we are one of the largest employers in the country, between drivers and employees about 1,700; and on top of that we spend about $50 million in the cotry on transport, raw materials, energy, our salaries, our benefits. So our contribution is really ingrained in Zambia and we are very excited, we are very proud of that actually, really proud,” added Mr Khan.