By JOHN MUBAMBE
A total of 80 women are training to enter the construction industry as contractors following the launch of a US$130,000 sponsored course at Solwezi Trades Training Institute (SOTTI).
The one-month Lobito Corridor Contractors’ Course aims to build capacity within the province so that personnel effectively support infrastructure development in the Lobito Corridor Project.
Speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Lobito Training women contractors on August 21, North-Western Permanent Secretary Grandson Katambi said the National Council for Construction (NCC) and SOTTI had been appointed by the African Development Bank through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, “This training is fully-funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and is intended to train 80 women contractors in North-Western Province to build capacity.”
Katambi said the Lobito Corridor Project would accelerate growth in domestic and cross-border trade by harmonizing trade, strengthening joint corridor development activities and fostering the participation of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in value chains. “The corridor covers the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and Zambia, and it represents an alternative strategic outlet to export markets for Zambia and DRC and offers the shortest route linking key mining regions in these two countries to the sea,” he explained.
The training was in line with the government’s vision to enhance local skills for sustainable infrastructure development and job creation.
The permanent secretary said he expected more than 90 per cent of contractors based in the province to favourably bid and win contracts for execution within the province to reduce the projects being undertaken by external contractors.
“The Government will constantly encourage more women to venture into the construction sector by acquiring skills that will be useful in the implementation of various projects,” Katambi said.
National Council for Construction (NCC) Acting Executive Director Kabondo Muntanga said that the launch of the training course was the beginning of a journey towards transforming lives and shaping futures.
“This training course targeting our women has been meticulously designed to empower our local contractors with the skills and knowledge that are not only relevant but also invaluable in today’s competitive landscape,” he said. He urged the participants to approach the course with enthusiasm and open minds, embrace the challenges that lie ahead and be active in their learning journey. “As you progress through this course, remember that your success is not only a personal achievement but a source of inspiration for others since the knowledge and skills you gain here will have a ripple effect on your families, communities and the nation at large,” he advised.
Solwezi Trades Training Institute Principal Ethel Mbewe disclosed that a similar training programme was conducted in 2021 to meet the current skills gaps within the corridor, where 121 SMEs were trained and capacity-built in line with the Lobito Corridor Project component.
Mbewe said the current training will enable the graduates to assess the quality of workmanship, determine the technology to be used in construction, understand the bidding processes, management of projects and resources, and manage health and safety processes on site.
She said that the selection of participants was conducted on merit and she therefore urged all participants to take this training as a game-changer which would create employment for them and offer business opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) around the province.