Editor's Comment

Let’s enhance economic diversification

THE need to diversify Zambia’s economy has long been recognised but various efforts to actualise it have proved elusive.
This therefore calls for strengthening efforts to diversify so that the county’s reliance on copper is reduced.
Economic diversification calls for introduction of a wider and varied sources of income generation, prosperity, and government revenues as well as increasing the sources of export earnings so that more employment can be created.
More than 10 years ago, a conference was held on the Copperbelt to intensify diversification of Zambia’s economy but very little of the recommendations that emerged from the conference was implemented, thus the scenario for Zambia economy has little changed.
This is why we welcome calls that the government and other stakeholders should strengthen diversification efforts to the agriculture sector to promote the industry and enhance agro-processing which will augment Zambia’s industrialisation process.
ZSB Agriculture Supplies Limited managing director Peter Goneos says Government’s commitment to diversify into agriculture sector is welcome.
Because of the cyclical nature of metal prices, this could plunge the country’s economy in serious problems if metal prices declined.
Intentions to diversify the economy are welcome because this has the potential to cushion Zambia’s economy from external shocks.
Diversification should not just be premised on enhancing agriculture alone but an array of other sectors that were identified during the Copperbelt conference.
These include other sectors such as tourism in which we have abundant resources, other agriculture sub-sectors like fisheries, floriculture, horticulture and aquaculture as well as forestry.
If these sectors were fully developed, they could create more jobs, increase government revenue and boost the country’s exports, thus creating more sources of foreign currency earnings.
The consolation is that the PF government is moving in this direction by implementing a robust infrastructure development programme.
This will open up other areas for development such as the inaccessible tourist areas and agriculture areas to enable the private sector to access them.
Like Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba said during the launch of Zambia’s 2015 to 2017 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the tourism sector despite having great potential for job creation and poverty reduction is not performing very well.
It is characterised by low foreign tourist arrivals and short average length of stay coupled with under-developed domestic tourism products.
Any efforts aimed at improving Zambia’s sources of jobs, personal income, government revenue and foreign currency earnings must be supported.
This will ensure that Zambia’s economy is truly diversified so that even when metal earnings decline, the economy remains stable.
Copper or any other metal is finite resource and time is now for the country to start working towards a sustainable economy even without minerals.
The specific broad economic policy intentions as enshrined in the 2015-2017 MTEF of promoting high growth in the labour-intensive sectors of agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and construction should be vigorously implemented.
Government has already noted the need to enhance diversification efforts and stakeholders must work towards broadening the economy.
We are confident that with concerted efforts, Zambia will eventually diversify the economy like most developed countries like the USA, Malaysia or UK have managed to do.

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