By Chikumbi Katebe
The Patriotic Front has embarked on a highly ambitious adventure to explore prospects of oil in Zambia as a pillar to strengthen its policy on diversification from dependency on copper.
President Edgar Lungu said the PF government has set a clear agenda to diversify the country’s economy as a means of reducing dependency on mineral ore and copper mining.
He said growth and gas explorations would open up Zambians to inedible levels of economic value.
“For too long our economy has been dependent on copper and vulnerable to shocks in the global copper price which lie beyond our control but have devastating impacts on our communities and society.
“My Government has set a clear agenda to diversify the economy beyond copper and to realise the value of our other resources in a way which is transparent, sustainable and delivers positive impact,” he said.
President Lungu said oil and gas development can and should be a game changer for any country’s economy as in the case of Zambia’s fast industrializing economy.
The President said the launch of the full tensionmeter gravity (FTG) survey the first ever oil exploration in Zambia, by a UK engineering firm, Tullow Oil being done in joint venture with a Zambian-owned company Geo-Petrolium Limited, should create local jobs and strengthen human capital.
He hailed Tullow Oil for their reputable history and success stories in similar works in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, as well as their commendable standing on the international stock markets such as the London Stock Exchange.
“It also marks a major milestone in our efforts to attract foreign investment, build local capacity and enable technology transfer.
“My Government considers investors as partners in development and welcomes qualified, reputable and experienced partners who share our development vision,” he said.
He has declared Government’s commitment to supporting such investments to create a future for generations to come, as well as open up the country to future adventures based on the vision to build and develop Zambia to the world.
He announced that the Ministry of Mines has already commenced a programme to build capacity and strengthen management of gas and oil in the country.
Mr Lungu has urged traditional leaders to help Tullow in their exploration works and to allow citizens provide the necessary support in the venture.
And Tullow Oils representative, vice-president Ian Cloke told the gathering that if there is oil, Tullow will find it.
This was at the launch of the first-ever petroleum exploration in Zambia with interest in the Block 31 measuring 53000 square kilometres in Northern and Luapula provinces respectively.
He said Tullow Oil was committed to creating benefits for the Zambian people in line with Government’s long term projects such as the one embarked on.
He said the company has since made a donation of up to US$100,000 to the University of Zambia School of Mines towards the refurbishment of the geology laboratories for the enhancement of training tools and equipment at the learning institution.
Dr Cloke explained that the future of Tullow Oil in Zambia depended on a well trained workforce in the long-term existence and operations of the company.
And Paramount Chief Chitimukulu of the Bemba has called on his subjects not to practice any form of segregation towards those coming into the area once the oil exploration yield successful results.
He said those coming to the two provinces (Northern and Muchinga) must embrace all those coming with various trades and expertise as well as those seeking employment and service provision.