Zambia’s Indeni Petroleum Refinery is the product of an idea born out of Government’s resolution to ensure that the country is guaranteed a sure and stable supply of petroleum products.
During the post-independence period, Zambia as a country relied heavily on Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. However, things would later on take a turn for the worst after Southern Rhodesia declared the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in 1965. This is because Zambia;s external trade was dependent on the Rhodesian Railways, which was routed through South Africa and Mozambique: copper was exported through the ports of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Beira
Moreover, the country’s imports were mainly sourced in the South, which is until the establishment of the Federation when the Southern Rhodesian industry developed and became the main supplier of the Zambian market. Following the access cut off from these routes, Zambia was left to survive with 12 days’ supply of petrol and 22 days’ supply of diesel with no alternative import routes.
Subsequently, Zambia was forced to divert imports and exports from the southern African ports to the port of Dar es Salaam as a land based solution to its problem. It would then follow that in 1968, the government commissioned Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (TAZAMA) pipeline to transport finished petroleum products into the country.
In 1970, Indeni was incorporated and became operational three years later. 1973 saw TAZAMA cease from transporting finished products and instead start transporting crude to be refined at Indeni in Ndola.
Fast forward decades later and Indeni Petroleum Refinery is a participant in the 2018 Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF). The fair is dubbed “Private sector: Key to industrialisation.” This, according to the company’s public relations manager Mwila Nkonge, couldn’t have come at a better time since the private sector plays a critical role in development worldwide. Furthermore, it also goes hand in hand with the African Development Bank (AfDB) requirement that up to 80 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) should be private sector-driven.
The refinery sector also accounts for up to 90 percent of the jobs market, which is the role of the private sector in Africa’s economic development. In Zambia, for instance, mining and agriculture are dominated by the private sector. They also account for 12.5 percent and 11 percent of GDP respectively.
As such, Indeni enjoys a symbiotic relationship with the private sector. This according to Mr. Nkonge, is because the fuel refined by the company is a major input in the operations of private sector players across the economy: mining, agriculture, tourism, construction, transportation, among others. On the other hand, the refinery relies on the private sector for a range of services and inputs.