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Friday, 24 March 2017

Zambia to seek US$750,000 budget supplement .......’ nationals need to be prudent, accountable for own actions, choices and borrow what they can manage’

File photo: Mutati---Let's be accountable for our choices, actions


March 24 (Zambia Informer) ---- Zambia may probably need in excess of K75 million (US$750,000) in supplementary budget to offside damages to infrastructure and crops in the aftermath of the heavy rains that beset the country in recent months.

“Yes, we’ll need a supplementary budget in excess of K75 million to repair bridges and other infrastructure as well as offset the effects caused on the crops by the army worms and the red locusts,” says finance minister  Felix Mutati of the US$6.5 billion projected for this year in expenditure.

Speaking during by the Civil Society Poverty Observatory Group (CSO-POG) in Lusaka on the theme: ‘the current state of the Zambian economy”  in Lusaka, Friday,  Mutati stated that Government will need extra resources to finance unforeseen developments that threatens  the budgetary expenditure projections.

He has since called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders to ensure that prudent management was prioritised.

Mutati implored various economic stakeholders to take up the responsibility of ensuring the economic recovery programme underway is not derailed through prudent management of resources that will further assist in overcoming the budget deficit that threatens to derail the envisioned growth that will ultimately meet the aspirations of the people.

While the Government seeks to engage  the International Monetary Fund  and compare notes on the fiscal management of the budget and economic realignment, it remains the obligation of  all stakeholders to ensure choices and decisions made concerning the economic recovery programme is done collectively without leaving anyone behind.

According to recent rankings, Zambia is rated third largest IMF partner in Africa besides South Africa and Nigeria and should ensure it enjoys reputation by honouring its own initiative of mooting a ‘home grown initiative’ that will spur the country to prosperity.

”We are all in charge of our own destiny as a people as we have indicated in the 2017 national budget....we are the big boys, so let’s not allow ourselves to eat the crumbs instead of the main meal when we have an opportunity to determine our own destiny” Mutati added while reaffirming Government’s resolve not to borrow what it can’t pay.

Government will continue prudential financial management and utilisation to ensure it reduces and assist cure the escalating budget deficit, increase foreign exchange reserves to over US$3 billion and raise the import cover to three months or more noting that previous projections had failed because of lack of adherence to set budgetary execution measures.

Zambia seeks to secure a staggering to $1.2-$1.3 billion in the 2017 budget to be consummated in the first half of the year expected to come in the form of an Extended Credit Facility (ECF), a programme which normally runs three years.

However, Mutati says  Zambia would prefer securing a non concessional loan at interest free rate unlike a commercial facility as this will give the country relief and assist Government to meet various external and internal obligations including debt servicing it secured from foreign creditors and the local private sector.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Zambia committed to enhancing regional integration .........Zambia-Mauritius buyers and sellers forum cited a yardstick for increased synegies among the SMEs

File photo: Mwanakatwe---seeks more synergies to promote SMEs


March 23 (Zambia Informer) ------ Zambia remains committed to embracing the realisation of regional and continental integration initiatives as a yardstick to bolstering growth of bilateral and intra trade among countries on the continent.

Zambia is among the 17 countries that have signed the tripartite Free Trade Area being promougated by 26 member states in Africa-operating under three economic blocs, ostensibly to bolster bilateral and intra trade on the continent, forecast to grow by over US$1.2 trillion in the next few years, using a single and tariff free-market of over 600 million people.

On 10 June, 26 countries from  the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community and East African Community met in Sharmar Sheikh resort town in Egypt and endorsed a Tripartite Free Trade Area, ostensibly to promote intra trade as a yardstick to accelarating value addition and industrialisation among member states.

Zambia, the 17th African state to sign the Traipartite Free Trade Area says given the desire to facilitate increased bilteral and intra trade among member countries, it has undertaken a number of deliberate measures to ensure the growth of the Small and Medium Enterprenuers through synegies and other joint ventures to bolster economic growth.

Several initiatives intended to streamline trade policies and spur growth through provision of incentices in among other sectors, manufacturing and increase value addition, have been undertaken to attract more investments into the country.

These efforts are being undertaken  through the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) in which it is supporting more than 1,200 projects involved in value addition by among other ventures, the processing of mango juice, fish, rice and dairy, to ultimately attract investors for possible joint ventures.

Speaking during the  two day Enterprise Mauritius-Buyers and Sellers expo in Lusaka, commerce trade and industry minister Margaret Mwanakatwe, in a speech read on her behalf by Shederick Mungalaba, the director of Co-operatives stated that  the significance of such events act as platforms to businesses in Zambia and those outside  to create synegies and further increase export and trade between each other in the different industry sectors.

It is against this background that Government seeks to continue promoting trade and boost economic development in the country by reducing bottlenecks in the production process and opening up of new investment opportunities chiefly for SMEs as evidenced by the Zambia-Mauritius buyers and sellers meeting held from March 23-24 in Lusaka and attracted several business enterprises.

Mwanakatwe disclosed that although there has been a decline in trade balance between Zambia and Mauritius, with trade  balance being US$93,006,057 in 2014 compared with US$336,703 recorded last year.

This was on account of various economic fundamentals including exchange rate disparities, the two countries continue to enjoy warm relationship and both countries are committed to enhancing regional and continental integration through the three economic blocs-Comesa, SADC and EAC.

And Zambia Development Agency acting director general, Cecilia Kongwa, reiterated Zambia’s commitment to working with Mauritius in fostering increased trade between the two countries, all mebers of both SADC and Comesa and that the two countries remain committed to undertaking trade promotions, market research, exchnage of information and attending each other’s trade fairs to exchage ideas.

Speaking at the occassion at which 24 companies from Mauritius were showcasing their products, Kongwa, reiterated teh agency’s commitment to ensuring the cordial relationship between two countries continue to increase the trade relationship and was hopeful more Mauritius buyer-seller meetings will continue in future.

Speaking at the same event, Honita  Cowaloosur, the Mauritian Head of  Africa Division at Enterprise Mauritius implored Zambian business houses to exploit that countries potential in manufacturing and agro processing sectors, among others, which if maximised could assist Zambia realise real economic growth especially with the beckoning of the Pan African  Continental Free Trade Area which seeks to broaden Africa’s economic growth.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

News Just In!!!-----Tax justice----a pre-requisite for developing and bettering people's welfare

Women, children need to understand their rights and benefits.
Action Aid embarks on propagating adherence to tax justice as a yardstick to investing in bettering lives of people in various communities as real returns.


Story coming soon.

Zambia-Zimbabwe co-host energy investment summit ……….extend ‘begging bowl’ for US$4 bln Batoka hydro power plant forecast for 2024

The Batoka power project will be a lifeline for energy efficiency in SADC


March 22 (Zambia Informer) ------- Spurred by energy deficiency which has affected economic growth of two of Southern African neighbours over the years, Zambia and Zimbabwe have invited ‘creditworthy’ Development Financial Institutions and renowned independent power providers for a conference on energy development.

The two countries, allies from pre-independence, are jointly seeking over US$4 billion from various well wishers, independent power producers and investors to construct and commission the belated 2,400 megawatt hydro power plant ostensibly to bolster energy generation, distribution and transmission within and beyond their borders as espoused under the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) on the 15-member-region power sharing under the interconnectivity facilities.

Interest groups and others close to the project, however, estimate the cost to hover around US$6 billion by 2024, spurred by the increased cost of spares and machinery to be used in the construction of the state of the art power plant.

The conference earmarked for the tourism capital, Livingstone, on 30 March  at which the two countries share the border, the two Governments are expected to share with investors and other interest groups their commercial structures adopted for the development of the Batoka project, showcasing the investment opportunities for the benefit of the participants.

The project, which initially should have taken off ground in the early 1990s when the cost was estimated around US$2 billion could not take off for various administrative and logistical reasons and with various steps undertaken by the two parties to ensure the project is “taken off the drawing board” and meet energy demands, the two Government have endorsed the take off of the project, hopefully to kick start the construction and subsequent commissioning by 2024, according to data.

The conference will be used as a marketing forum to securing financing guarantees from investors and independent power producers over the Batoka Gorge Hydro Power Scheme, after the two governments endorsed the Batoka project in February 2012, which paved way for engineering and environmental social impact assessments to be undertaken which eventually validated earlier studies at the site.

David Mabumba, the Zambia’s energy minister, speaking ahead of the conference planned for 30 March in Livingstone hailed the efforts made by both countries, despite some of the challenges.

The project, once successful, will assist overcome power challenges in the two countries as well as the entire region as power will be shared under various power interconnectivities and make the commodity available.

The 15-Southern African member states, have since 2015 been dogged by climatic change effects, which resulted in droughts that reduced water levels, culminating in power water levels that caused some of the energy projects in Zambia and beyond, stagnating or shutdown to save the equipment from damage.

The power deficit that afflicted the region, resulted in power rationing to industry including mines as well as domestic end users, ultimately affecting economic growth of several SADC member states while food deficit also compounded the problem, resulting in countries failing to provide the basic needs of their people.

However, Mabumba says the clean energy project is a breakthrough if it comes to fruition and that the 1,200 megawatts to be enjoyed by the two countries will be a culmination of various efforts to increase power generation by both countries that have been affected by drought like other member states in SADC.

“The energy deficit affected all the SADC member states all because of the climate change and it is our hope that this Batoka Gorge project will be our flagship to reduce energy deficit we are presently experiencing,”

The project, which has developed increased interest from various stakeholders, investors alike will be used as one of the power sources for the 257 million populated SADC region and whose power will be generated at a cost of US$0.32 cents a kilowatt hour and will be sold to would be potential customers at US$0.8 cents a kilowatt hour-whose proceeds will be reinvested in the project for long term development.

At the same occasion, Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), the water regulators at the Kariba Dam and other water sources inclined to the Zambezi River says various concerted efforts have been undertaken over the years and that all things being in place, including final feasibility studies, in addition to the older Environmental Impact Assessments and other formalities, the project will undergo a ground breaking process by next year to be graced by the two leaders in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

ZRA chief executive Officer,  Munyaradzi  Munodawafa is elated that after various efforts which have been put in place to ensure the project takes off in the initial stages, the regulator is happy that the preparatory process, undertaken with financial support from the world Bank under the Multi-Donor Trust Fund is nearing completion to pave way for final touches before signaling construction.

Engineer Munodawafa is happy that the launch of the Batoka gorge project is not only good for the two countries nor Southern African region but good for Africa too that makes economic sense.
The ZRA is a bi-national organisation jointly owned by the two neighbours and was established 30 years ago on 1 October as a parallel legislation in the two Parliaments and is responsible for managing of the Zambezi River, flowing between the two countries.

BACKGROUND TO SAPP:

The Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), founded in 1995,  is a cooperation of the national electricity companies in Southern Africa under the auspices of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The members of SAPP have created a common power grid between their countries and a common market for electricity in the SADC region. 

Development:

The Southern African Power Pool has many long-term goals it wishes to achieve. Main goals include increasing the accessibility of electricity to rural communities, better the relationships between the involved countries, create strategies that will support sustainable development priorities, and to co-ordinate the planning of electric power.

SAPP was created with the primary aim to provide reliable and economical electricity supply to the consumers of each of the SAPP members, consistent with the reasonable utilisation of natural resources and the effect on the environment., the regulator says on its website.

Action Aid seeks good amenities for the majority poor …………’ We are concerned with the non access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene’

Clean and reliable water, sanitation and hygiene by people, pre-requisites.


March 22 (Zambia Informer) -----Developing countries, Zambia included, need to hasten and put in place policies that ensure their people have unrestricted access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene at all times as espoused under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),  Action Aid,  the global leading debt, poverty and human rights campaigner says.

Zambia, the 14.3 million populated state is one of the countries in the Sub Saharan region with lowest levels of access of safe water for an estimated 5 million of its total citizenry, a development that has raised the eyebrows of the United Kingdom based civil, debt, poverty and human rights campaigner, ActionAid.

Speaking ahead of the commemoration of the  water day dubbed:  ‘Water and Wastewater’, Action Aid regrets at the oversight and failure by the developing countries, Zambia inclusive, to uphold the obligation to provide such services to its people, which are undeniable rights for the people as espoused by the United Nations through its SDGs.

With reference to SDG number six (6) which aims among other objectives, seeks  to support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management, Action Aid notes in a statement, Wednesday that 6.5 million lack access to improved sanitation leaving 2.3 million to practice open defecation while only 43 percent of the 8.4 million rural populations have access to improved sanitation facilities.  

Of the 53 countries in Africa, Zambia is ranked 16th lowest  in terms of access to water and is further rated 30th on access to sanitation hence the need for deliberate steps and policies, including investing in water and sanitation, ideal for its populace.

Government’s investment and commitment in drinking water and sanitation can yield high returns, as improved access to water and sanitation has many health benefits. In addition, easy access to water saves time. This translates into higher productivity and greater school attendance, as well as less tangible benefits such as convenience and wellbeing, which can also have an economic impact, Nalucha Nganga Ziba says in a statement, availed to the Zambia Informer.

ActionAid Zambia in reaffirming its call for improved provision of such social amenities supports initiatives to improve water and sanitation governance through the Citizens' action project and budget tracking in Nalolo District in the Western Province of Zambia. 

It disclosed that the Citizens' action project started in 2016 and now covers all 10 wards of Nalolo. Project activities are designed to make duty bearers and service providers responsive and accountable for providing services in a sustainable and equitable manner. Constructive engagement and bridging the gap between service providers and the communities that they serve are fundamental to these initiatives.

It further argues and beliefs it is the mandate or responsibility of the Zambian Government and indeed other developing countries to devise policies that will ensure the ‘all-year-round’ provision of water and sanitation services to people who need them. 

ActionAid Zambia and partner civil society's role is to effectively empower citizens to demand to raise the voice when appropriate services are lacking. Citizens' action continues to exert pressure, through advocacy and lobbying, to bring about good governance in terms of both programming and financing.

The civil rights group has since urged the government to work towards the UN adoption of the resolution International Decade (2018-2018) for Action – water for sustainable development to focus on water during the next 10 years. 

This action, if undertaken in earnest illustrates the importance of water for sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and hunger among the people governed.

Background:

ActionAid is an international non-governmental organization whose primary aim is to work against poverty and injustice worldwide.

ActionAid  was founded in 1972 by Cecil Jackson-Cole as a child sponsorship charity (originally called Action in Distress) when 88 UK supporters sponsored 88 children in India and Kenya, the primary focus being on providing children with an education. 

Today,  its head office is located in South Africa with hubs in Asia, The Americas and Europe. The charity has received negative attention for its fundraising practices. ActionAid  is a reputed a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and further defeat poverty among the less privileged people in society, according to data on its website.