Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba says government has embarked on a project to mordenise the Mpulungu Harbour in a bid to increase its capacity at a total cost of $100.4 million.

At a media briefing today, Mushimba said government had realized the critical role that the Mpulungu Harbour played in the transport corridors as a trade facilitator and an enhancer of regional integration.

“Government has undertaken a mission to increase the capacity of the Mpulungu Harbor by modernizing the port’s infrastructure and equipment. Currently, with the support of the cooperating partners, a $1.4 million feasibility study on the modernization of the harbor is underway and further, a $60.4 million is earmarked for infrastructure development and another $40 million is earmarked for the acquisition of the water transport vessels. All this is in our quest to make the port more competitive and for Zambia to realise the full economic potential and opportunities that the Great Lakes Region has to offer,” Mushimba said.

Asked where the funds would come from, he explained that corporating partners had already assisted to pay for the feasibility study but that government was still sourcing for funds to upgrade the infrastructure.

He said that Mpulungu was the main gateway to the great lakes region, and was a transit point for products such as cement, sugar, maize and clinker (a raw material for the manufacture of cement).

Meanwhile Mushimba announced that Zambia would for the first time in history host the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PAMESA) conference slated for 22nd to 24th of November, 2017 in Livingstone.

He said the conference would be held under the theme ‘raising the profile of land linked countries in the logistics and maritime value chains’.

“I feel proud to be hosting this event because it will be the first time in the history of PMAESA that a land linked country will be hosting the conference. I am also glad that the conference will be held at a time when Zambia is chair for the United Nations group on landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). As LLDC, we are working towards transforming our countries into land linked countries. Take for instance Zambia we have been working on the link Zambia 8000, a project that will result in our country being land-linked to all it neighboring countries. In addition, Zambia aspires to be a hub for transport communication and meteorological services in the southern African region by 2030,” said Mushimba.

PMAESA, is an inter-governmental non-profit making organization that has a membership of 25 countries and its primary objective is to strengthen relations among member ports and organizations with a view of promoting regional cooperation and ultimately regional integration.