Editor's Comment

Private sector must drive development

THE Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), which is the country’s blueprint for development for the next five years, up to 2021, brings out ambitious plans to make Zambia a prosperous middle-income economy.
The plan envisions a prosperous middle-income economy that offers decent employment opportunities for all Zambians by harnessing opportunities for economic diversification and growth.
Among the values that the 7NDP embodies is the public-private partnerships (PPPs) model.
This is because Zambia, like many other countries across the globe, realises the important role the private sector plays in spurring economic development.
It is an established fact that SMEs are the largest job providers in the formal and informal sectors. They are key drivers of innovation in many sectors, as they exhibit higher degrees of flexibility and less bureaucratic organisational structures.
At global level, the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, approved in September 2015, also recognises the role of the private sector to support the international community’s endeavours to tackle economic, social and environmental challenges.
In the 2030 Agenda, the call for an active engagement of the private sector can be found in several passages. Among the goals, SDG 17 – “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development” – refers directly to the role of the private sector, in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and its multi-stakeholder approach to ending poverty once and for all.
The implementation of the UN General Assembly resolution on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA) 2016-2025, is also anchored on a strong commitment by the private sector, both domestically and as a foreign direct investor.
Needless to say, partnering with the private sector is the foundation of any successful large-scale development strategy.
The private sector is no doubt a key factor in the successful implementation of the 7NDP and attainment of SDGs.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also affirms that businesses are vital in achieving the 17 SDGs aimed at addressing the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.
UNDP estimates that it will take investments of up to US$5-7 trillion annually by 2030 to reach the SDGs.
The world, including Zambia, has come to realise that political means alone will not achieve SDGs but the private sector needs to play an important role too.
This is because economic growth, trade, entrepreneurship, innovation and the creation of decent jobs, which are critical to the attainment of SDGs, are tasks that are largely based on the private sector’s efforts.
This is why President Edgar Lungu is calling on the private sector to drive investment in the country.
This is because they are better placed in terms of expertise, technology and resources to do so.
As rightly noted by the head of State, Government’s role is to provide a conducive environment for businesses to thrive. It is better placed to facilitate and regulate as opposed to engaging in business.
Government needs to provide good policies, strong institutions, infrastructure and efficient public goods and services to ensure that the private sector thrives.
So far Government has been doing its best to provide a conducive business environment.
For instance, Zambia is among the first few countries to promote local content strategies for private sector development.
Through the local content strategy, Government seeks to foster business linkages in growth sectors as well as promoting linkages between micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and large enterprises, both local and foreign.
This is certainly a good recipe for spurring the much-needed industrialisation and diversification through competitiveness and knowledge sharing.
Such initiatives are evidence that Government is resolute on developing the private sector and making it the main driver of economic growth.
We therefore urge the private sector to take its rightful position and direct the country’s development path by investing in the major sectors of the economy such as agriculture, energy, tourism and manufacturing, among others.
Opportunities are vast and the environment is conducive, coupled with political stability.
It just requires private sector players to be more visionary and innovative to tap into the opportunities for their own growth as well as the country’s development.

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