VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
ONE of the catchy stakeholder yardsticks for the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), is the need for it to create a Zambia where no one will be left behind as the economy continues to grow.
After many years of enjoying economic development averaging 6.5 percent, the aim for Zambia in the next five years is to let the growth trickle down to the people.
One million jobs must be created; livelihoods must improve; inequalities should decline; the general population must be well nourished; and standards of living among the poor must improve.
Government has a lot to do to reduce poverty, especially in rural areas where about 78.6 percent of the population is poor.
In short, everyone must feel the benefits of Zambia’s economic growth as Government strives to create a diversified and buoyant economy driven by agriculture, mining and tourism sectors.
The youth who form the majority of the Zambian population will need equal access to education, skills empowerment and jobs. Perhaps this is the reason why Government wants to create one million jobs in the next five years.
And the World Bank, according to Country Manager Ina Ruthernburg, is happy that Government has prioritised job creation in the five-year plan that is expected to propel Zambia to a middle-income prosperous economy by 2030.
By 2030, Zambia’s population is expected to double to 30 million people, the majority being youths. Ms Ruthernburg said this means that 300,000 jobs will need to be created for young people as they enter the workforce every year.
The 7NDP has been described as an important development plan whose implementation will determine whether Zambia will achieve its vision of becoming a middle-income country by 2030.
Economic Association of Zambia president Chrispin Mphuka says the 7NDP gives hope for economic growth as Government plans to spend K342.3 billion on projects by 2021.
Dr Mphuka told this newspaper last week that the 7NDP covers most of the key elements of the economy and all that needs to be done to create synergies in sectors of the economy.
The 7NDP, a detailed blueprint formulated to propel Zambia to its Vision 2030, was launched by President Edgar Lungu on Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Vision 2030 is a long-term plan that expresses the aspirations of the Zambian people to live in a strong and dynamic, middle-income industrial nation that provides opportunities for improving the well-being of all.
It embodies values of socio-economic justice underpinned by the principles of gender responsiveness, sustainable development, democracy and respect for human rights, among others.
Once implemented, the vision positions Zambia as an economy which is competitive, self-sustaining, dynamic and resilient to any shock; supports stability and is free from donor dependence.
Added to these aspirations, Zambia is expected to have stable social and cultural systems that support human capital formulation.
The goals of the Vision 2030 are being implemented through national development plans (NDPs).
The 7NDP offers a five-year perspective, defining a desired destination and identifies the role different sectors of society need to play in reaching that goal.
“The 7NDP is an important milestone towards the attainment of the Vision 2030. We envisioned a prosperous Zambia where all young people will have access to education and health facilities and offers equal opportunities to all,” President Edgar Lungu said when he launched the document.
Mr Lungu noted that the implementation of previous NDPs has resulted in the country’s sustained positive economic growth, averaging 6.5 percent.
“Although overall poverty levels declined from 62.8 in 2006 to 54 in 2015, I am concerned that rural poverty remains high at 78.6 percent and unemployment rates at 7.4 percent,” President Lungu stated.
“Very few Zambians work, informal sector account for 89 percent of the employed. I am concerned that the gap between the poor and rich remains wide, we must all work together to reduce this unacceptable income disparity,” the President said.
The 7NDP also aims to unite Zambians; unleash the energies of citizens; grow an inclusive economy; build skills and enhance the capability of the state and leaders working together to solve complex problems.
And the World Bank pledges to work with Government to achieve a diversified, resilient economy that will lead the country towards becoming a prosperous nation by 2030.
Ms Ruthernburg, the country manager, said the bank’s partnership with Government must be utilised fully to achieve the goals under the 7NDP.
“This development plan, in our view, is just very critical to achieve the goal of 2030 because with this plan, you determine, first, whether Zambia will become a prosperous middle-income country or not.
“Secondly, whether it will be a country that shares its prosperity or not. Thirdly, whether it will be a country that leaves a lot of people behind, that still struggles with high levels of poverty, particularly in rural areas,” Ms Ruthernburg said.
The World Bank also sees the 7NDP as a race against time, because by 2030, Zambia’s population will double to 30 million.
“And it will be a young population. This means that at minimum, additional 300,000 jobs will need to be created for young people as they join the workforce every year,” she said.
And drawing lessons from the previous experience, the World Bank urged Government to avoid falling into unsustainable debt that could constrain resource allocation to social investments and agriculture.
According to Ms Ruthernburg, another lesson from the previous national development plans is the need to harmonise development planning to the budget so as to achieve desired goals.
In short, the main goal of the 7NDP is to create a diversified and strong economy for sustained growth and socio-economic transformation, with agriculture, mining and tourism as the main drivers.
The plan will also focus on interventions that support poor households that have the capacity for self-sustenance through livelihood empowerment programmes that will enable them graduate and enter the mainstream economic sectors.
Interventions will aim at reducing all forms of inequalities, promoting a well-nourished population free of all forms of malnutrition, improving the general welfare of the poor and vulnerable and promotion of livelihood and empowerment initiatives.
The plan has also taken cognisance of the need to increase employment opportunities for all Zambians.
Further, the 7NDP priorities interventions that will ensure that no one is left behind as the economy grows.
Emphasis has been placed on strengthening governance systems and institutions to ensure that growth is sustainable.
The UN resident coordinator, Janet Rogan, noted that the process to transform the country through the 7NDP in line with the Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals is of high quality.
“With your permission we would like to share the 7NDP as best practice with other countries globally, for their own national planning processes,” Ms Rogan said.
She urged all people in communities across the country to find themselves in the implementation of the plan.
Strategic objectives have been put in place that will ensure the realisation of the overall goal.
Minister of Development Planning Lucky Mulusa said wide consultations were done in the formulation of the plan to build consensus and ownership.
“The enthusiasm, dedication and unity of purpose demonstrated during the formulation of the plan gives comfort that together we can achieve what is envisioned in the document,” Mr Mulusa said.
The implementation of the plan is expected to enhance human development, economic diversification and job creation. Other aims are poverty and vulnerability reduction and reduced developmental inequalities.
To this end, Government has developed a national performance framework which will assist to logically link development programmes in a manner that will lead to attainment of the Vision 2030.
A total of K342.3 billion is expected to be spent in the implementation of the plan in the five-year period.