The Zambian Economic Stalemate

A journey around the territories of Zambia paints an ambivalent picture. From the arduous capital city life to the far simpler and profound country-side. One thing is however constant, hardships.

The complexities of the challenges vary. A typical country-side lifestyle would constitute of a short journey to the waters or farms in the quest to earn a living, and the far more sophisticated challenges of those basked in an urbanised set-up, such as, growing financial legs. However, the urbanised lifestyle is easily diluted by economic hardships.

Austerity measures were pronounced in the 2017 budget to save an economy that was on its last legs because of the huge debt the country amassed over the years all in the hope of jumpstarting economic recovery. With that, subsidies were withdrawn from many sectors of the economy and this in turn, led to increased airtime tariffs, inter alia.

Recently, the amount of funds collected through the toll system in Zambia was announced, to dub the amounts collected as huge would be an understatement, perhaps, astronomical would suffice. However, the state of some roads, with a few exceptions, makes for a sad sight. The corruption levels in Zambia are at an all time high, the frivolity attached to addressing this is quiet alarming.

Addressing corruption in Zambia would, without doubt, be scoring a first. When a solution can be found to the perpetual financial leakages, resources should be channelled to needy areas.

If at one end of the spectrum jobs are created and at the other, people are fired and pensioners are not paid their dues because of misapplication and missing of funds, is there any economic progress?

If citizens are empowered through empowerment schemes then have their businesses uprooted because of an egotistic disregard for others. How will people earn a living?

The solution is high in the clouds and we all must unite by working together and crafting a way to reach for the skies. This can be only done by coming to a roundtable and discussing ways in which we can move forward.

There are prospects of having more investments in the energy sector due to increased electricity tariffs. 50% is the initial increment and a further 25% increment is set to take effect on 1st September 2017. Potentially, this could be a positive in terms of the rural electrification masterplan because a lot of schools in the rural areas will be electrified.

In agriculture, a bumper harvest of 3,606,549 metric tonnes of maize for the 2016/17 farming session compared to 2,873,491 metric tonnes of maize in the 2015/16 farming season certainly makes good acoustics. However, the clarion call is for all well-meaning citizens and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to reach and buy from farmers in far-and-wide areas so that they can recoup the money that was invested. This will not only empower citizens but also reduces pressure on public finances. Hopefully, this will trigger a much wider whim that would ensue in more entrepreneurial mindsets.

The country is projected to record 4% growth in the economy in 2017 according to the world bank.

Zambia is on the up and a paradigm shift is before us, certainly, no one should be left behind.

It is the responsibility of you and I to maintain peace without any malignity or acrimony if the country is to get out of the current financial malaise.


Featured image | Zambian Village, Lower Zambezi | wikimedia commons

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.

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