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Zambia signs deal with Mwale after Jeff Bezos backed firm discovers large copper deposits

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The Industrial Development Corporation of Zambia (IDC) finalized a wide ranging deal with US based Kenyan investor and founder of Mwale Medical and Technology City  (MMTC) Julius Mwale in Lusaka, Zambia.

IDC chaired by President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia signed the deal after seven months of negotiations between the consortium led by the tycoon and the government of Zambia.

Mwale led a delegation to state house in Zambia in October last year at President Hichilema’s invitation, after Zambia’s government delegation visited Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC) in Butere, Kenya in September 2023 for benchmarking purposes.

President Hichilema then introduced the consortium to IDC where a deal was sealed for smart cities, mining, infrastructure and agriculture, to help IDC fulfill its mandate of developing Zambia’s domestic industrial capacity and creating jobs.

The deal comes after a US firm KoBold Metals discovered large copper deposits at its Mingomba copper project in Zambia near the border with DRC. KoBold metals which is backed by billionaires including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos discovered one of the world’s biggest high-grade large copper mines early this year. It said it had raised $150 million for the exploration process in Zambia.

The discovery of the vast copper deposit could help in the global race to secure a supply of minerals critical to the energy transition. Copper is in high demand because of its use in renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Zambia and DRC have plenty of minerals critical for manufacturing batteries for domestic power use and for Electric vehicles.  Mwale’s foray into Zambia positions him as a key player in the industry as MMTC expands into developing 18 smart cities in 12  countries in Africa by 2050. The cities will be powered by batteries like MMTC in Kenya.

“We will start immediately in July and work to fulfill the agreement, said Norbert Mugeni, a chemical engineer and assistant project manager in the energy division of MMTC.

He said that the mining is in Nickel, Cobalt and Copper. ” We want to use cobalt and nickel for building battery manufacturing plants for EVs in the Kasempa region of Zambia”. He said using the abbreviation of Electric Vehicle (EV) batteries”.

Jack Chadukwa, the CEO of Afritechnics in Zambia, another consortium member said that the idea is to create industries in Zambia that create value addition and thousands of jobs.

“We are glad to be part of Mwale’s consortium so that we can replicate what we saw at MMTC in Kenya here in Zambia,” he said.

He said that they will build smart cities, roads, and deploy mineral resources for new factories that will employ thousands of Zambians. The consortium will also invest in healthcare and agriculture. He said the consortium has so far secured US $ 2.4 billion for the Zambia projects.

MMTC in Kenya is a US $ 2 billion sustainable city founded by Mwale and is built around Hamptons hospital which treats thousands of Kenyans and medical tourists. Local Kenyans with NHIF are treated without paying copayments. The city has 5 districts and has seen visits from many African leaders and businessmen for benchmarking purposes.

Mwale received a social infrastructure award from Africa Prosperity Network in Ghana in January,  which was awarded by President Nana Akuffo-Addo for his work on MMTC.

Zambia is Africa’s second largest producer of copper after DRC.  It also has large deposits of nickel near the border with DRC attracting global investors with deep pockets.

The electrical battery market is estimated to be worth about US $43 trillion between last year and 2050 according to industry estimates. MMTC said previously that they are building 18 smart cities in Africa by 2050  and want to use the batteries to power their smart cities.

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