—-Government is making strides towards developing Western Province that has been least developed since independence.
Western Province Minister, Richwell Siamunene, notes that although the province lacks proper infrastructure ranging from roads, schools and hospitals among others, government has in the last three years pumped in huge sums of money in establishing the above.
The Provincial Minister was speaking during a Zambia-Angola Provincial consultative meeting held in Rivungu District’s Cuando-Cubango Province in Angola following the commencement of the construction of Shangombo-Rivungu canal that once complete will connect Zambia to the port of Lobito and improve cross broder trade between the two countries.
He said with the area of 126 km square, Western Province is divided into 16 districts out of which Shangombo, that connects the country to Angola via Rivungu, is ranked the poorest in the.
Mr. Siamunene said in an effort to open up the area government was in the process of constructing various roads in the province, citing the on-going Mongu-Kalabo road, Sioma-Matebele as well as the earmarked construction of Matebele- Shangombo and Kalabo-Sikongo roads.
“Part of the poor road network in this province is due to the prolonged war that was here in Angola that split to some parts of the Western Province, as evident by the number of Angolan refugees still
residing in our province,” he noted.
He stressed that within the framework of the Zambia-Angola Permanent Joint Commission (PJC) it was important that the two countries hold regular consultative meetings considering that Angola shares one of Zambia’s longest border lines via Shangombo and Sikongo districts.
Mr Siamunune further appealed to the provincial chamber of commerce from both countries to interact regularly in an effort to share business ideas that will contribute positively to the economic development of Western and Cuando-Cubango provinces.
And speaking at the same meeting, Cuando Cubango Governor of Angola, Higino Lopes Carneiro, appealed to the Zambian government to consider helping Angola to connect Cuandu-Cubangu province to Zambia’s national electricity grid through Shangombo district.
Gen Caneiro said the Angolan government was looking forward to strengthened bilateral relations that will help Angola enhance its economic, tourism, energy and transport sectors.
He said there is need for the exploration of untapped minerals and business opportunities that are in Cuando-Cubango and Western Provinces.
Gen Caneiro said Angola remains committed to working in unity with the Zambian government at district, provincial and national levels in order to help improve the living standards of people residing in the areas.
He said the Angolan government has a lot to learn from Zambia, adding that just like Western Province Cuando-Cubango region is ranked the poorest in Angola despite having potential to be the hub of the country.
Meanwhile, Sinjembela Member of Parliament, Poniso Njeulu, said enhanced trade between Zambia and Angola through Shangombo district will help uplift the status of the district.
Mr Njeulu said with continued talks between the two countries at all levels will help coordinate various community life changing programs and projects for the betterment of the local people.
“Rivungu is very close to Shangombo, so if we are able to work with them, I think we can benefit a lot from them. They have very cheap oil and they are already talking about tapping power from Zambia,” he said.
He noted that if both governments agree on issues to be debated on further citing the proposal by the Angolan government to tap electricity from Zambia via Shangombo, which can bring foreign exchange, the two countries will benefit a lot from each other economically.