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Nkayi yearns for investment

Nkayi district is seeking for investors who can set up local factories to exploit its ‘abundant’ natural resources such as timber and create employment for its locals, an official has said.

Despite Nkayi possessing thick forest cover stretching across vast tracts of land, with enormous teak and mahogany timber resources, the district is ‘still poor’ having less economic activity.

Devolution has not yielded much joy, as the funds are focused on social services rather than building on investment, which explains why some communities in the forestry areas have schools without proper infrastructure, bad road network coupled by high levels of unemployment.

District Development Coordinator, Matilda Mlotshwa, lamented how companies harvest large tracks of timber but do not give back to Nkayi communities.

“We have timber but unfortunately it’s harvested and carried to Harare as a raw material. we hope one day, Nkayi will be able to have its own sawmills here to process the resources and we will be very rich,” she told journalists in an interview at her office Wednesday.

Mlotshwa highlighted there were several opportunities in Nkayi since there were plenty of trees, but the challenge was the district lacked the capital to fully exploit its resources.

“We have plenty of land and trees but we need some people to help us exploit the natural resources that we have,” said the district development administrator.

She claimed that there was a company called “Pride of Africa…who harvest timber but take it to Harare where they process it there. If we had a factory here to process timber, people would be employed. They would harvest the trees and work in sawmills in the factory, afterwards we sell the finished product,” Mlotshwa said.

“This is true if investors can come and do that because we have teak here and a lot of mahogany, even if you go to the communities,  you will see a lot of it.”

The district development administrator noted devolution was limited to social services and not expanded into investment. 

“Devolution funds are used for communities, as we are constructing clinics and schools. The fund is mostly used for social services, not investment. The devolution funds are going into council coffers, with specific target areas,” she said.

Mlotshwa explained the focus was on social services because locals were “poor and the government is trying to uplift them to the next level to be a middle-income citizen by 2030.”

“This can be possible if people can access water, which is why devolution will look at water, sewer reticulation, health and schools but not into investment. But we are saying investors can come and put up factories here. They can access their funds while we benefit from employment,” said the district development administrator.

“We are endowed with natural resources but poor economically.”

She added that investment was needed to conduct exploration as well.

Mlotshwa cited that Nkayi’s soil type was Kalahari Sands, which was bad for construction but underneath it lied coal that if exploited could reap huge rewards.

“You can’t build on Kalahari Sands if you do the structure shakes and moves. This is why our bridges are falling and buildings are cracking from the Kalahari Sands, and in some other places, you can find coal underground. We, therefore, need someone to explore this coal but that requires investment. If resources are underground and untapped to us its nothing,” noted the district development administrator.

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