KASUBA MULENGA, Lusaka
AROUND 03:00 hours on Saturday, 15-year-old Joseph Banda of Kabwata township in Lusaka got out of bed and rushed into the bathroom to takeÂ a shower.
Family members awakened by the squeaking sounds as the boy opened the doors in the house wondered who could be doing that at such an awkward hour, when everybody was slumbering peacefully. They later learnt it was Joseph who was readying himself for independence revelries on the occasion of Zambiaâ€™s 51st anniversary.
Although of a tender age, Joseph wanted to join independence merriments at National Heroes Stadium where people from innumerable walks of life shared a sense of unity, prosperity and well-being.
The unity with which Zambians celebrate independence day goes beyond its frontiers to other African countries that equally revel their respective liberation days, the reason why it is part and parcel of all developmental itineraries taking place on the continent.
As such, Zambia has fused itself in the continental 50-year development blueprint dubbed â€˜Agenda 2063â€™, a structural transformation disposition that was agreed upon by the African Union (AU) golden jubilee in May 2013.
Agenda 2063, whose first 10-year implementation takes place from 2013 to 2023, is a long term vision of the continent which captures the hopes, aspirations and expectations of Africans for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent.
Being an AU member, Zambia is domesticating Agenda 2063 so that the plan is not looked at as an AU document but as one which Zambia should view as its own. This is the premise upon which a workshop on domesticating Agenda 2063 in Zambia was held in Lusaka recently.
â€œThe African Union is the membership of countries that are in actual sense, the owners of the continental plan. It is from this perspective that the plan requires domestication so that it is not simply seen as an African Union document but as one which countries like Zambia should view as their own,â€ Dr Ronald Simwinga, the Ministry of Finance permanent secretary, said during the official opening of the workshop.
This was in a speech read on his behalf by Paul Lupunga, the Ministry of Finance chief economist for multilateral and finance.
â€œIt is in this regard that Agenda 2063 needs to be operationalised at national level by integrating it into our Vision 2030 and our development strategies. In so doing, we shall be part of the development process of Africa as a whole and benefit from it,â€ Dr Simwinga said.
As a matter of fact, Zambia needs to utilise Agenda 2063 as a fundamental manuscript in its future planning undertakings.
The country is domesticating Agenda 2063 in the context of its National Development Plans (NDPs). Thus, domesticating the first 10-year continental plan implementation will be done in line with the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) that will be executed between 2017 and 2121.
And there is a background to this.
In March this year, a Zambian delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Finance attended a conference of African Ministers of Finance on Agenda 2063 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The meeting discoursed the need for AU member states to domesticate Agenda 2063 through synchronisation of continental plans, and mobilisation and financing of the 50-year proposal which remains a critical facet for Zambia and other AU members.
â€œArising from recommendations of the Addis conference, Zambia will domesticate Agenda 2063 through her NDPs, popularise Agenda 2063 among local stakeholders including the public, private and civil society,â€ senior planner in the Ministry of Finance, Vincent Kanyamuna, said in his presentation on domesticating Agenda 2063 in Zambia.
Other recommendations of the Addis Ababa conference included innovation of localised ways of mobilising and financing the continental plan. Zambia is in this respect using Agenda 2063 as an input into the 7NDP, and in so doing, clear and firm guidelines on how various sectors will use the continental strategy in planning processes are already being provided.
So far, going by Mr Kanyamuna, all approvals for developing the 7NDP have been made and a first stakeholdersâ€™ workshop was held in September and attracted participation of representatives of all the provinces and sectors.
Nationwide consultations are soon to be held and compilation of the 7NDP is expected to be completed by the end of 2016 in readiness for commencement of implementation in 2017.
And contributing to deliberations of the workshop, Ministry of Finance deputy director of national planning Esnart Mpokosa underscored the need for a budgetary allocation for Agenda 2063 for popularising the plan as an activity which should in fact be a unit on its own.
â€œWe need a communication strategy so that Agenda 2063 is frequently talked about in mass media such as radio and television so that many people get to know about it. With what we have done today, we are creating the future even if we wonâ€™t be there. We should look at ourselves as champions of development,â€ Ms Mpokosa said.
Senior technical adviser to the AU Commission on Agenda 2063, Adu-Boahene Yaw, who presided over the workshop, described Zambia as a well governed country which places development strategies within the context of advancement of the entire continent.
â€œIt played a key role in the preparation of Agenda 2063, especially the first 10-year plan. The government hosted African planning experts in May 2015 in Lusaka to review the first 10-year plan which was adopted by the AU summit in Johannesburg in June 2015,â€ Mr Yaw said.
Mr Yaw, who is also Continental Consultant (GH) Limited president, is happy that in terms of domesticating the continental plan, Zambia is using Agenda 2063 as a key reference document in the preparation of the 7NDP.
â€œZambia will, through consultations for preparation of the 7NDP, discuss the importance of Agenda 2063 to Zambia and Africa, and solicit the citizenry to own the process and the outcome of the continental plan,â€ Mr Yaw said.
Fifty years after the first 33 independent African states gathered in Addis Ababa to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now AU, the continent is looking ahead towards the next 50 years.
Its leadership has acknowledged past achievements and challenges and has rededicated itself to the Pan African vision of â€œan integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.â€
When the vision of a united and prosperous Africa and indeed Zambia comes to fruition, Joseph Banda will perhaps make it an annual episode to wake up early in the morning to prepare himself for independence festivities in an affluent, free and united Zambia.
KASUBA MULENGA, Lusaka