Business

ZDA: Delivering equitable development

INVESTMENT FORUM with MARGARET CHIMANSE
THE mandate of the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) is to foster economic growth and development by promoting trade and investment through an efficient, effective and coordinated private sector-led economic development strategy.
The government, through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, has continued to create enabling investment climate for Zambians to promote local direct investment (LDI) and attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
It is from this background that, the ZDA, in its strategic plan for 2016-20, addresses the changing business environment domestically and internationally to support Government programmes of economic diversification and increasing private sector participation in the economy.
As a facilitator of industry and the trade sector, ZDA recognises the significance of providing an enabling environment for industry and trade sector development and to make opportunities real for Zambians, especially for women and the youth who are already shaping the future through enterprise development.
Accordingly, ZDA is committed to delivering on its mandate by articulating it strategic goals and has undertaken to work with the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI) and stakeholders to continuously implement investment policies and review the investment climate to meet the needs of all investors to create wealth and jobs to reduce poverty.
It is, therefore, imperative to make determined efforts to forge stronger working relationships with all stakeholders that share ZDA’s passion of promoting Zambia’s economic growth and development.
The agency believes that if all stakeholders in the public and private sector join hands with ZDA to develop the country, the attainment of a middle-income status will be realised.
However, sustained development can only be achieved if women who form 50 percent of the country’s population are taken on board as partners and given opportunities to participate in the economic affairs of the country.
The government, through the Ministry of Gender is committed to protecting and promoting women’s rights, curbing gender-based violence and reducing gender inequalities by making progressive changes to legislation to strengthen the protective environment.
The aim is to prioritise the advancement of women and strengthen their capacity to influence decision-making at the highest level on matters pertaining to gender equity and equality. Some of the functions of the ministry include; monitoring implementation of the national gender policy, gender mainstreaming, economic empowerment of women, monitoring and evaluation as well as communication and advocacy.
Achieving equality in the workplace will require an expansion of decent work and employment opportunities, involving government’s targeted efforts to promote women’s participation in economic life, the support of important collectives like trade unions, and the voices of women themselves in framing solutions to overcome current barriers to women’s participation.
UN Women states that in functions where women are already over-represented but poorly paid, and with little or no social protection, those industries must be reformed to work better for women. For example, a robust care economy that responds to the needs of women and gainfully employs them; equal terms and conditions for women’s paid work and unpaid work; and support for women entrepreneurs, including their access to finance and markets.
Women in the informal sector also need their contributions to be acknowledged and protected. This calls for enabling macroeconomic policies that contribute to inclusive growth and significantly, accelerate progress for people living in extreme poverty.
According to the Living Conditions and Monitoring Survey (LCMS) 2006 and 2010, higher levels of poverty (50 percent) were found in female-headed households compared to male-headed households whose figure stood at 41 percent. Statistics show that 80 percent of the people living in poverty are women and children. The high levels of poverty in the rural areas simply imply, by default that more women in rural areas are living in extreme poverty.  Poverty has a negative impact in the realisation of all rights for women. It affects aspects of health, nutrition, education, protection and participation.
Addressing these inequalities will take resolve and flexibility from both public and private sector employers. Incentives will be needed to recruit and retain female workers; like expanded maternity benefits for women that also support their re-entry into work, adoption of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, and direct representation at decision-making levels.
To address some of these disparities some measures have been implemented by Government such as establishing an economic empowerment fund for women as well as  public welfare assistance and social cash transfer schemes to promote rural financing, inclusive growth and social justice.
Further, Government has been implementing a rural financing mechanism through the opening up of banking facilities in rural areas and provision of loans to public officials in far-flung areas. This, coupled, with security of tenure of land for people in rural areas, aims to stimulate the rural economy and subsequently, lead to poverty reduction.
Additionally, the creation of the ZDA and Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) was aimed at promoting entrepreneurship development of both women and men, and ensure they have the adequate capacity to contribute to the country’s economic development.
Although the supportive environment towards the attainment of poverty targets has been continually improving, more work is needed to so to address the challenges and ensure there is equitable and sustainable development.
For more information:
Contact the manager, communications and PR ZPA House, Nasser Road
P O Box 30819
Tel: 0211- 229240 info@zda.org.zm

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