THE 2016-2021 Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto states that: “The vision of the Patriotic Front for the next five years is to make Zambia more industrious, prosperous, peaceful, stable, united, democratic, and inclusive society, under the motto of One Zambia, One Nation”.
Guided by this Vision, the PF government has continued to implement all development programmes outlined in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP), as a means of accelerating Zambia’s arrival to the ‘promised destination’ encapsulated in the Vision 2030.
The third strategic area of the 7NDP is “Reducing Developmental Inequalities” through “promoting integrated rural development; promoting urban and peri-urban economies; reducing gender inequality, and enhancing income opportunities for poor and marginalised groups.”
On rural development, the PF manifesto states that:
“The Patriotic Front government shall continue to pursue its programme of reinvigorating rural development and ‘taking the cities’ to the rural areas through, but not limited to, establishing new districts in rural areas. More health, education, electricity, communication, water and sanitation and related social infrastructure shall be developed in the rural areas so as to reverse the rural urban drift….”
Promoting rural development
The PF Government is transforming underdeveloped rural settings into cohesive communities with profitable and productive opportunities where members enjoy equitable access to basic public and social services, such as rural electrification, rural industrialisation with emphasis on agro-industrialisation, rural water supply and sanitation, among others.
Against this background, the PF Government secured US$108 million water supply and sanitation funding for four provinces in 2017 from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Implementation of the Integrated Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Programme started in the second quarter of 2018.
The target areas are Western, Northern, Muchinga and Luapula Provinces; targeting 12 districts, namely: Kaoma, Mongu, Senanga, Sesheke, Mbala, Kasama, Mpika, Nakonde, Samfya, Kawambwa, Mwense and Mansa.
The overall aim of this project is to increase access to quality, safe and reliable water supply and sanitation, to benefit 930,000 people in the project areas.
This is line with the Vision 2030 objective: “to provide secure access to safe potable water sources and improved sanitation facilities to 100 percent of the population in both urban and rural areas”.
In line with the 7NDP, the PF Government is also investing in expanding rural road networks with particular emphasis on feeder roads to improve access to markets for rural entrepreneurs. Consequently, the PF Government secured US$200 million International Development Association (IDA) credit in 2017, under the IDA17 Scale-up Facility for Zambia to improve selected rural roads in six provinces, with Government to finance the other four provinces.
Currently, Zambia lags behind majority of countries in terms of rural connectivity. For example, according to the Rural Access Index, only 17 percent of rural population live within 2 kilometres of a good road in Zambia, leaving about 7.5 million rural residents unconnected to the road network in the country. This makes rural and national development elusive.
Consequently, by implementing the Improved Rural Connectivity Project, the PF Government will ensure that 460,000 people in the targeted rural areas benefit through improved connectivity to schools, markets for their agricultural produce, health facilities, and jobs for the rural communities. In addition, this project will also transformation Zambia into a regional food basket and contribute towards economic diversification, due to enhanced integrated rural development.
Rural infrastructure development
In line with the 7NDP, the PF Government is developing infrastructure to reduce developmental inequalities in both rural and urban areas.
Some of the infrastructure being developed include road construction and upgrading, including: Link Zambia 8,000 to land-link Zambia domestically and regionally; Pave Zambia 2000 to pave 2,000 kilometres of urban roads countrywide; feeder road rehabilitation for maintaining feeder roads to stimulate market access for agricultural produce; C400 to improve 400 kilometres of the road network in Copperbelt Province; L400 to improve 400 kilometres of the road network in/around Lusaka Province; the Ndola-Lusaka Dual Carriageway, and many others.
The PF Government, through the Rural Electrification Authority (REA), is implementing the rural electrification programme to achieve the Vision 2030 target of having “abundant and reliable supply of affordable energy to both urban and rural areas”.
For example, REA commenced the development of two solar mini-grids in 2016 in Chunga and Lunga in Central and Luapula provinces, respectively.
The Lunga and Chunga Solar Mini Grid projects will have a capacity of at least 300kWp and 200kWp respectively and each one of them will directly benefit public institutions, business entities and 2,170 households.
In addition, the PF Government is implementing solar energy programmes including; the already implemented Phase I of the Sustainable Solar Market Packages (SSMP) which involved electrification of public institutions in 3 benefiting districts of Isoka (with 159 installations); Kalomo (268 installations) and Lukulu (280 installations). The SSMP Phase II is currently under implementation in Lundazi, Chama and Mwinilunga (Ikelenge) at a cost of US Dollar 665,100 and will benefit schools, rural health centres, local courts, chief palaces and households.
Further, the PF Government is exploring the high potential of mini- hydro power in North Western, Northern, Luapula and Eastern Provinces.
REA is currently implementing several mini hydro projects including; the Kasanjiku Falls project to generate 0.64 MW in Mwinilunga district at a cost of US$8.7 million, and shall benefit 12,000 people.
Other mini-hydro power generation projects currently under implementation are: the Chikata Falls, a 3.5 MW power generation project in Kabompo district; the Zengamina II, a 1.74MW power generation in Mwinilunga district, to mention but two.
Furthermore, REA and ZESCO, are implementing the Electricity Service Access Project to increase electricity access rate in rural areas.
To this end, the Government secured a US$26.5 million credit facility from the World Bank for scaling-up the rural electrification programme in Southern, North Western, Eastern, Muchinga, Central, Western, Northern, Luapula and Copperbelt provinces.
Zambia lags behind the majority of countries in providing access to electricity in rural areas. This hinders inclusive development. Hence, through connecting 22,000 rural households and 1,000 Medium to Small Enterprises (MSEs) by 2022 at subsidized fees of K250 and K769 respectively through ZESCO; the PF Government will significantly contribute towards reducing developmental inequalities through the ESAP project.
Enhancing rural agro productivity
In order to enhance rural ago-productivity, the PF Government secured a US$31.1 million grant from the Global Agricultural and Food Security Programme to promote productivity and market enhancement among small-scale farmers.
This seven-year programme, under the Agricultural Productivity and market Enhancement Project (APMEP), is being supervised by the AfDB in support of Zambia’s National Agriculture Investment Plan.
The APMEP aims to develop irrigation and aquaculture; promote crop and livestock production and productivity; support agro-processing and value addition; market linkages, and enhancing household income, food and nutrition security – all aimed at realising Zambia’s Vision 2030 aspiration to become “a prosperous middle-income country by 2030.”
The Vision 2030 objectives to Reduce Developmental Inequalities seek to “develop a fully integrated rural based agro-based and light-manufacturing by 2030” and “increase the proportion of rural households living within 5km of the nearest health facility from the current 50 to 80 percent by 2030”, among others.
Through effective implementation of 7NDP programmes; the PF Government is leading Zambia towards achieving the above, including the aspiration for “a Nation without Hunger and Poverty”, simply said, “A Prosperous Middle-Income Nation by 2030”.
The author is PF Secretary General.