ZAMBIA – Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema has officiated the construction of a US$600 million Urea and ammonia plant at the United Capital Fertilizer Zambia Company Limited in Lusaka’s Chilanga district.
According to Agence Ecofin, the facility is envisioned to have a production capacity of 480,000 tonnes of fertilizer per year, primarily 300,000 tonnes of urea, and 180 000 tons of ammonium aimed to cut the importation of fertilizer and reduce the local cost.
Zambia has been importing its bulk fertilizer to meet its growing land under cultivation. However, prices of the essential commodity had escalated following the depreciation of the local currency, contributing to skyrocketing food prices.
According to the ministry data, the country consumes between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes of fertilizer per year. Additionally, the TradeMap platform reported that in 2021 the country imported around $440 million worth of fertilizers, mainly from South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Therefore, the officials are optimistic that once completed, the Plant will help the country stop the importation of fertilizer and cut local cut prices by 40% in the next two years.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, the President stated that the government is resolved to ensure that Zambia is food secure and investments in areas such as this are most welcome.
“This is the enabling policy and business environment we wanted. One of our policies is positive discrimination, as long as the Zambian company meets the standards required. This will create jobs and keep money circulating locally,” President Hichilema said.
In addition, the president stated that his government is a firm believer in building Zambia by buying Zambian products.
“The long-term strategy is for Zambia to progressively start importing lower quantities of fertilizer and other inputs used for food production,” he added.
Speaking at the same event, Trade and Industry Minister, Chipoka Mulenga said the plant is a practical example of President Hichilema’s vision to get the economy back on track.
The president also revealed that the construction works will be carried out by the Chinese company Wuhuan Engineering specialized in the management of construction projects in the chemical industry.
Zhang Jinyue, Vice President for Wuhuan Engineering Company, the firm that will construct the fertilizer plant said local people will be trained to run the plant which will have modern technology that promotes environmental sustainability adding that 750 jobs will be created.
The project was backed by the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Du Xiohui who intimated that China will support Zambia to contribute to global food security.