It’s every town-planner’s dream – the opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper and build an entire town from scratch. That’s Kabitaka, a purpose-built town on the outskirts of Solwezi.

It boasts more than 600 owner-occupied homes, commercial and other plots, a clinic, recreational facilities and two fee-paying schools. And in a first for Solwezi, Kabitaka has proper sewerage, street lights and a 6-million-litre water-storage facility. For many, the town is the most desirable address in Solwezi. The schools are the envy of the region in terms of facilities, infrastructure and the quality of the teaching staff. Shops and other commercial developments are in the pipeline.

For many, the town is the most desirable address in Solwezi

Kabitaka was designed primarily to help ease the acute housing shortage in Solwezi, which was – and still remains – plagued by an acute lack of suitable accommodation.

Before Kabitaka was built by FQM Kansanshi, the only option open to their employees, and Solwezi residents in general, was to rent sub-standard accommodation at very high prices. The rentals had been driven to sky-high levels because the town’s housing and other infrastructure was not able to keep pace with the sustained economic growth of the town since Kansanshi started operating.

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“This lack of accommodation really squeezed our employees, many of whom come from the Copperbelt and had an urgent need for decent, affordable housing,” says Godfrey Msiska, public relations officer at Kansanshi.

Employees had first preference, and represent the majority of the homeowners in Kabitaka. But there are many Solwezi residents living there too, and most of the children attending the schools are from Solwezi, and have no connection to the mine.

A drive around Kabitaka’s well-ordered streets reveals a wide range of homes of different sizes, colours and architectural styles, all reflecting the specifications of their owners. The town has redefined home ownership, and set new standards in construction.

“We have become the catalyst for modern housing development in Solwezi,” says Msiska. “And more importantly, we have helped to ease the housing crisis, and take some of the immediate pressure off the municipality.”

Kabitaka is just the start: FQM has used the knowledge and experience gained on the project to build an even more ambitious town, Kalumbila, at its Trident project, about an hour away from Solwezi. Trident is a $2-billion mining venture which comprises the Sentinel copper mine and the Enterprise nickel mine. Like Kabitaka, Kalumbila Town aims to be a well-planned, fully integrated town that provides a vibrant base for socio-economic growth – and which can serve as a model for other such communities in Zambia and throughout Africa.