Editor's Comment

Citizens must join economic growth drive

Kabwe town

NO MATTER how much goodwill and investment we attract from our foreign partners, Zambia can never develop without the involvement of its citizens.
This is because attaining significant development demands a lot of sacrifice which can only be given by those who are truly attached and patriotic.
On the other hand, our partners, no matter how genuine, can only sacrifice as far as their interests go.
For instance, investors will only invest in areas which are deemed profitable to them.
They will not go out of their way to invest in areas which are less profitable yet top on our development agenda.
Foreign investors are also not under any legal obligations to invest their profits in the country.
The common practice by investors is to externalise profits to their countries of origin.
This leaves the country to only benefit from taxes and jobs while the larger chunk of the money is externalised to develop the investor’s country of origin.
This is why we agree with President Edgar Lungu and Economic Association of Zambia president Lubinda Haabazoka’s call for citizens to engage in economic activities if the country is to develop.
Dr Haabazoka rightly observed that citizens need to participate in the economy if the country is to grow its gross domestic product and subsequently achieve its middle-income status by 2030.
Dr Haabazoka’s sentiment came after President Lungu, in his annual address to the nation on the application of national values and principles, called on Zambians to participate in economic growth through employment creation and increasing productivity.
It is a sad reality that five decades after independence, some citizens still hold on to a misguided notion that the responsibility to develop the country lies squarely on the shoulders of Government.
However, the truth of the matter is that the responsibility to develop a country lies on all citizens regardless of status.
While Government is the major driver of development, we do not know of any country in the world which has developed without the full involvement and hard work of its citizens and other stakeholders.
History and experience have shown that development is always a product of collective effort of all stakeholders.
This means that the absence of citizen involvement in economic activities creates a gap which cannot be filled by any other stakeholder.
Among all stakeholders, citizens play a key role because their involvement in economic activities has more and ripple effects on the country’s development.
For instance, if citizens engage in economic activities, the profit raised is re-injected into the economy thereby accelerating development.
When citizens are empowered economically, they also contribute to development, through infrastructure development among other investments.
The involvement of citizens in economic activities also empowers them to help others, thereby uplifting the living standards of many and reducing poverty.
Government is cognisant of the importance of citizen participation in economic activities. This is why it has come up with policies and incentives in some sectors such as construction.
Government has put in place a policy which ensures that local contractors are given 20 percent of the total construction contract awarded.
This is because Government realised that local contractors could not compete with their foreign counterparts who are better-equipped financially and technically.
It is, however, disappointing that some of the local contractors who have been awarded government contracts have been a let-down.
We have had reports of some contractors who have abandoned projects midstream while others have delivered shoddy works.
This is not the kind of engagement that will drive economic growth.
Zambians need to understand that beyond themselves, whatever they do has an effect on the country’s achievements.
It is also worth noting that there are also many Zambians who are working so hard to contribute to the economic growth of their families as well as the country.
There are also many who are eager to participate in the economy and yet they have no means to do so.
Government should, therefore, work towards creating a conducive environment where start-up and small businesses can thrive.
Financial institutions will also do well to work with Government and provide affordable finance, among other incentives.
As a country that is richly endowed with natural resources, opportunities for investment are vast.
In sectors where more capital is needed, citizens can form partnerships.
As a country, let’s work towards a situation where citizens will hold huge investment portfolios in key sectors such as energy, agriculture, mining and infrastructure.
We need to reach a point where even when foreign investors pull out, we will have more than enough wealthy Zambians to take over.

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