NDOLA stands on the verge of socio-economic transformation after the District Commissioner Dorothy Nachilongo unveiled an inspiring vision to ignite development activities in Ndola.
The 18th Century writer Rudyard Kipling, no doubt, would have most probably described the vision, which has all the blessings of the Patriotic Front (PF) Government, as a weapon of infinite-resource.
With this, the District Commissioner, through her vision, is up-beat to turn around the lost fortunes of the once bustling industrial hub in Ndola.
In an inclusive interview with this writer, Ms Nachilongo attests that Ndola was now slowly waking up from the deep slumber of economic degradation after the closure of most industries few years ago.
"Ndola is a sleeping giant and now it's awakening up to reality. It is supposed to be head-quarters of the Copperbelt. I have a vision for a better Ndola", she recoils.
Ms Nachilongo attests that the firm spot on which the vision stands has already facilitated the lobbying of the business community and the PF Government in a bid to ensure Ndola becomes the preferred destination for different yet vibrant business activities that add value to sustainable national development processes.
She quips, with visible glee: "I have a vision for Ndola. Ndola was a leading city where industrialisation was concerned. I want to open-up opportunities for investment in different industries and factories".she said.
Admittedly so, the District Commissioner knows only too well that realising the pillars of the vision was not an easy task. There are challenges in the strides to attract the private sector to invest or set up industries in Ndola.
Government has to create a lush environment for investors to develop industries which will operate as main drivers of sustainable economic diversification.
She says that a viable industry will improve great talents among community members effectively creating employment opportunities for the youths and women.
She is intensifying her networking efforts as well encouraging partnerships between communities, the private sector and Government as a way of kick-starting the implementation process for some of the vision pillars.
Ms Nachilongo intones: "I want to see investors coming to Ndola to set up businesses, creating employment and contributing to the national economic growth. The advantage is that Ndola is centrally located. Once the industrial base of Ndola is developed, it is easy to establish a vibrant manufacturing sector and export products to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where farm produce are in high demand.
Being a non-mining city, I want, through my vision, to ensure that more factories are set up and those which were closed to be re-opened. We want factories such as Dunlop (tyre manufacturing company) back in Ndola".She said.
She further observed that President Michael Sata's recent official visits to some developed countries where he has been meeting policy-makers, business leaders and other prospective investors is a welcome development.
She believes President Sata was doing spade-work for her and the onus was upon her office to attract the same investors to plough their money in the city by setting up employment and business opportunities.
The city brags of large tracts of unutilised land and Ms Nachilongo would ensure that investors fully take advantage of this offering, adding that all business activities should add value to the PF Government's efforts to up-lift the plight of the society.
She contends that Ndola bubbles with profound potential for development because it was free from air pollution compared to surrounding mining towns.
Despite all the development misfortunes, Ms Nachilongo quips, with a tinge of confidence: "The wheels of Ndola's economy have already started to turn. Ndola is slowly coming back to life".she retorted.
Some significant pillars of her vision focus on agriculture, education and health sectors to create employment opportunities. The other vision pillar is to encourage farmers to diversify from maize growing to cattle rearing, chicken and pig rearing.
And in a deliberate stride to empower locals with skills and appropriate tools to contribute to the national development processes, Ms Nachilongo has embraced plans aimed at fostering the renovation of all dilapidated schools and at the same time construct more learning institutions in the event that public funds permit.
There are scores of less-privileged children trekking long distances to attend basic education. Some expectant mothers are forced to give birth to their offsprings in thatched shelters because there are no maternity wards in local clinics in their respective rural settings around Ndola.
She says: "Once schools are renovated and new ones are built, teachers will be employed, that is, job creation. We want to open up more clinics and also renovate those which have been closed", she said.
Her vision is to ensure that Ndola streets are well-lit and roads swept clean, perhaps pot-hole-free.
The district commissioner said that her vision is gravely powered by a marketing strategy to score the goal of making Ndola a place of choice for investment and other economic activities.
Armed with the strategy, Ms Nachilongo boldly says: "We are talking to business people to make them aware about the prospects of developing the industrial base of the city".
She strongly advocates women empowerment, arguing that educating a woman translates into empowering families, which creates secured households. To her, society is incomplete without full activity of the local communities.
That is paramount because development is incomplete without full participation of women as custodians of the earth.
Ms Nachilongo, a former diplomat in Nairobi, Kenya, played a critical role in marketing the positive offerings of Zambia in the east African country. And some critics believe that turning around the fortunes of Ndola may as well be easy walk for her in the park of roses if concerted efforts are instituted by all concerned parties.
With this, Mrs Nachilongo is asking for nothing in excess except the full participation of the local residents because her vision does not fit in a great illusion but a solid attempt to halt the expansion of non-productive communities and also promote effective community participation in national affairs.
She took a swipe at what led to the downfall of most economically viable manufacturing companies in Ndola, a shameful yet flawed 'privatisation' process that left a mass of humanity roaming the streets of Ndola and elsewhere.
Maximillian Makumba, a local resident , says Ms Nachilongo's vision should strive to incorporate the aspect of decongesting the streets and corridors of the city centre for sanity to prevail.
In a nutshell, it would not be an over-statement to conclude that there is a well-thought out and highly positive tide in Ms Nachilongo's vision to ignite development activities in Ndola.