FINANCE minister Alexander Chikwanda has urged Japanese and other investors to take advantage of the Multi Facility Economic Zones and invest in various sectors of the Zambian economy.
Mr Chikwanda said Zambia offered huge investment opportunities in various sectors which Japanese investors should take advantage of.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the Hitachi re-manufacturing factory project incorporated in Zambia as Hitachi Construction Machinery Zambia Company Limited in Lusaka yesterday.
The US $15 million project is the first ever investment into the Zambian manufacturing sector by the Japanese company.
Hitachi is one of the largest manufacturers of construction, mining and earthmoving equipment in the world.
The plant which started its construction in 2010 would enhance value addition activities through the provision and repair of processing equipment.
It will also service other countries in Southern and Central Africa.
Education Minister John Phiri, Commerce, Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Keith Mukata and other senior other government officials were present during the launch.
Mr Chikwanda noted that the investment was an expression of confidence in the Zambian economy by Japanese investors.
He said he was happy that Zambia would be a regional hub of Hitachi and would service the surrounding countries among them Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.
Zambia's central location had obvious logistical advantages in terms of regional outlook.
Mr Chikwanda said Zambia would benefit in many ways from the plant such as transfer of technology, human resource development, skills transfer and creation of jobs and wealth for the surrounding communities.
He said the company was expected to employee 40 specialised employees with a view of an increased number after the expansion of the project.
Zambia would also expect increased foreign exchange earnings through increased exports of re-manufactured products to other countries.
'The Hitachi investment we have witnessed today is a classic example which will induce positive demonstration effects. It is worth noting that Hitachi has made an investment of 15 million United States dollars into the new re-manufacturing factory," Mr Chikwanda said.
Hitachi Construction Machinery Zambia executive officer Yukio Arima said Zambia was chosen because of various reasons especially its geographic factor which provided for the feasibility of factory operations.
Mr Arima cited the other reasons as human resource because the company was hopeful of finding many skilled personnel due to the presence of mines.
He said the Zambia and Japan had a lot of similarities because both countries owned the ethic of respect for ancestors and elderly people.
Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Akio Egawa said the project would not only create employment for the local people but would induce change in manufacturing and business by combining technology, labour, capital and the market.
In a speech read on his behalf by Japan Charge de Affaires Atsushi Kuwabara, Mr Egawa said he counted on the Zambian leadership and officials to uphold a business friendly environment with transparent regulations.
He said the interest for investment in Zambia by Japanese was rising because of the country's splendour and attractiveness.