Luapula Province Minister Nickson Chilangwa says poverty levels in his province have over the last five years escalated from 76 percent to about 82 percent.

Chilangwa who is also Kawambwa PF Member of Parliament said the only way to fight poverty in the province was by creating platforms for people to find jobs and raise their economic profiles.

He said this when he featured on the Patriotic Front (PF) interactive Forum today.

“The fishing industry is driving the economy of Luapula province. Nearly 80 percent of the population in the province live in the river line areas, they live around lake Bangweulu swamps on the Luapula river, around lake Mweru. The population has grown, the fishing industry has grown. It is for that reason that we find highest poverty levels in Luapula province have grown especially in those areas which rely on fishing industries. You find in some constituencies like Chifunabuli, poverty levels are as high as 92 percent because of the dwindling fishing stocks,” Chilangwa said,” Chilangwa said.

“Poverty levels in Luapula province over the last five, six, seven years have been going from about 76 percent in about seven or so years ago to about 82 percent now. In other provinces, poverty levels are dropping, but in Luapula province they are escalating. What are the reasons? Both historical, political, cultural and otherwise. The only way we can fight poverty is by putting more money in people’s pockets like raising people’s economic profiles. We need to create a platform where people are able to find jobs, where people are able to find markets for their produce. That is why we came up with the Luapula Expo.”

He explained that the upcoming Luapula Expo which was expected to commence on 26th and end on 31st July 2017 was mainly aimed at showcasing and improving the economic performance of the province.

“The Luapula Expo basically is to raise the profile of Luapula province, to showcase Luapula province, to improve the economic performance of the province. You cannot improve the economic performance of an area, of a region, or a country if you do not invite people with money to come and partner with you,” Chilangwa said.

And Chilangwa boasted about the upcoming investments in his province which he said would further raise the provincial profile from that of fish farming only.

“Now that we have got a bit more of power coming into Luapula province, we have Mansa sugar. Mansa sugar is a company that has set up a sugar estate. And before the end of this year, they are going to start constructing a sugar processing plant in Mansa. We have sunbird who are going to be producing ethanol from cassava and they are going to put up a processing plant as well in Kawambwa,” said Chilangwa.

“We have got Kawambwa sugar who are also setting up a second sugar plantation in Luapula province and they are also going to put up a processing plant. We have another company called agro-pro, they want to grow cassava to produce industrial starch in Mansa and they are also going to put up a starch processing plant in Mansa. In addition to that, CEEC are putting up an industrial park and we are doing a ground breaking ceremony with the Minister of Commerce next week.”