THE Government is undertaking comprehensive resource mapping in all the provinces to ascertain their economic potential meant for the development of industrial clusters for small and medium enterprises.
The resource mapping will help determine the geographical concentration of enterprises that produce and sell a range of related or complementary products with the aim of establishing industrial clusters.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Robert Sichinga said so far, the Government had completed the resource auditing of products in Luapula, Northern, Southern, Western, North-Western, Copperbelt, and Lusaka provinces in readiness for the development of industrial clusters.
Mr Sichinga said currently his ministry was conducting a comprehensive resource auditing of three provinces namely, Central, Eastern and Muchinga.
The developments of industrial clusters were done under the concept of the Rural Industrialisation Strategy which involves encouraging location of large and small
-scale industries closer to the raw materials, adding value to the various primary resources the country is endowed with, upgrading and modernisation of rural industries as well as, improving the quality and packaging of products, among others.
It was noted that the strategy also tries to address the huge urban-rural inequity in terms of development.
Speaking when the Zambia Institute of Marketing (ZIM) paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Lusaka, Mr Sichinga said the Government was currently looking at the product endowment in each locality before developing industrial clusters.
"We are doing the resource auditing in each district and we want to build industries around it and once we finish the auditing, we will establish institutions in these districts and we will also be working with members of Parliament to verify the kind of products found in their areas," Mr Sichinga said.
"We need to put in place appropriate infrastructure, such as tarred roads connecting each district, reliable energy and water supply, health and education facilities. As such, the ministry will work closely with the relevant institutions to make this strategy a reality," Mr Sichinga said.
He said the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) would help Zambia develop the rural industrialisation policy while, the World Trade Organisation would provide technical and marketing support towards the programme.
Mr Sichinga said institutions such the Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) would provide the resources for the enterprises.
The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) would both provide capacity building.
The role of the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) would be to formulate standards, while the Technology Business Centre would assist in the provision of appropriate technologies.
Rural areas continues to lag behind in terms of economic activities, infrastructure, services and social amenities. This has had a negative impact on the development of the country as these areas constitute a larger population.
With rural development, a reduction in urban migration, efficient and effective utilisation of local resources through value addition, and equitable distribution of income can be realised.