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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

‘The Zambia I want to see in my lifetime’-President Lungu ......fighting poverty should be driven by a unity of purpose by all

President Lungu---rebuilding Zambia is a fight for all of us.Pix: ZNBC

June 21 (Zambia Informer)-----Zambia seeks to build a resilient but strong economy-anchored on diversification as a yardstick to accelerated growth to counter the pangs of poverty as the country aspires to become a middle income state by the year 2030.

Despite the challenges besetting the country, Zambia stands ready to ride over various obstacles that have stifled economic growth through addressing various challenges that will culminate into the country meeting its aspiration of ensuring all people benefit from the national cake guided by the Government’s focused policies.

President Edgar Lungu, in launching the K342.3 billion Seventh National Development Plan for the period 2017-2021 and dubbed: “To Become a Prosperous Middle Income National by 2030” reiterated Government’s resolve to turn around the misfortunes buffeting the country and yield positive results of the people, especially in rural areas, where the majority are living in squalor spurred by increased poverty levels.

Zambia he added, stands resolved to rise like an Eagle in building  a resilient  and diversified economy, embracing value addition coupled with knowledge based  activities, all deeply entrenched in line with the principled of a Smart Zambia.

It remains Government’s resolve under the strategic plan to accelerate development efforts undertaken to date towards attaining the espoused vision of growth by 2030.

The launch of yet another development plan since inception in 2002, forms part of the Government’s deliberate policy to attaining the vision 2030 which will uphold Zambia’s long time dream of becoming a prosperous middle income nation at the turn of the decade.

President Lungu espouses to see a Zambia where all young people can access education and health facilities; a prosperous Zambia offering equal opportunities to all the citizenry; as well as a prosperous nation where innovation will form the bedrock of commerce and industry.

It remains a long cherished dream under President Lungu’s administration to rebuild Zambia with resilience, but guided by the principle of diversification of the economy with full utilisation of potential in all sectors.

However, fighting poverty, he adds,  should be driven by a unity of purpose by all Zambians if challenges besetting the country are to be overcome including poverty which have afflicted mainly the rural areas, where levels have hit an all time high of 76 per cent.

However, President Lungu has raised eyebrows at the increasing disparities between the rich and the poor in the country noting that 10 percent rich account for 56 percent of the national income, hence the need for Zambia to revisit the United Nations-initiated Sustainable Development Goals where all people are included in national building and cake sharing.

The national development launch is an indicator of government’s commitment to create a  gateway to the Vision 2030 target,  which has remained a long term national aspiration which embraces an integrated multi sectoral approach.

Speaking during the same occasion, United Nations Country Coordinator Janet Rogan hailed Government for espousing for a better Zambia but challenged various stakeholders to unite, set aside political differences and ensure the plan outlined succeeds noting that Zambia’s vision meets the aspiration of the UN system which seeks to promote Sustainable Development Goals -SDGs.

And Minister National Development and Planning, Lucky Mulusa described the plan as home grown which will culminate in Zambians owning the economy as human resource remains key to economic emancipation. 

World Bank’s country representative in Zambia, Ina Rutehenburg commended Zambia for its focused vision towards growing the economy and bettering people’s lives across all spheres but sought a coordinated approach between the national budget and the national development plan for the country’s dream to culminate into reality.

Friday, 16 June 2017

‘Zambia in over Euro 5.5 million fillip to bolster Health System Service Support ……….EU provides bridge finance for national quality control laboratory, warehouse and ZAMRA office complex


June 15 (Zambia Informer) ------ Plans by Zambia to enhance and provide quality health service delivery among its over 16 million populace has taken off ground with the Southern African state joining hands with the European Union to construct a state of the art laboratory and office accommodation for the regulatory body-ZAMRA.

As part of the Health System Strengthening Programme (HSSP), the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) has joined hands with the 27-member European Union (EU) to construct the much sought after National Medicines Quality Control Laboratory (NMQCL) and office complex east of the Zambian capital, Lusaka to assist support public health delivery in the country, amid a growing populace.

According to the agreement, the European Union with support from PM Group of Ireland has pledged to provide Zambia K5.5 million (Euro 5.5 million) in bridge financing to construct the infrastructure and provide related equipment including constructing a warehouse and laboratory,  among others infrastructure  and ensure safe  storage, delivery  and other related health services through the Medical Stores Limited (MSL).

The financing forms part of the three-year agreement between the two parties under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) as the country strives to accelerate the provision of improved health services for the people and contribute to socio-economic development of the country.

Zambia further seeks to improve availability of quality medicines in a public and private health care and further assist in providing a rational use of essential medicines in the country.   This will further support Government with policy development and effective implementation of various health services including provision of drugs and determining the efficacy of  those being dispensed.

Poul Thim, the EU team leader said  in Lusaka, June 15 that the financing if part of the groupings’ commitment to assisting Zambia and other Least Developed and Developing nations meet the needs of the health services of their people  and that the project is specifically for the Zambia’s needs and was not being undertaken in other countries.

Thim  added that the laboratory and head office at the ZAMRA  would be head office, expected to be constructed and completed in the next three years will be built on a 6,000 sqm-1200 sqm (laboratory), and will be the only official medicines control laboratory in Zambia, constructed in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and will accommodate over 130 members of staff.

It is envisaged that the construction of the facility will assist Zambia-through the regulatory body-ZAMRA to among other things provide improved regulation of medicines while the NMQCL will provide international programmes including a laboratory of international standards, test medicines, herbal, products, medicine devices and cosmetics while microbiological as well as physic-chemical testing will form part of the new infrastructure which Zambia years to have.

And Speaking at the same event ZAMRA Executive Director, Beatrice Mwale reaffirmed the Government’s resolve to ensure regulation  and dispensing of various medicinal facilities is improved with the oncoming infrastructure.

Dr. Zuma Munkombwe, the director-medicines control reaffirmed Zambia’s resolve to ensure high standard and quality medicinal are provided to the people in the country’s quest to fulfil its commitment to providing proper health care at various levels and ensure its accountability, less of pilferage.

Dr. Francis Bwalya,  the Director of Health  Promotions and Environmental Protection at teh ministr yf health said it remains Government’s resolve to meet the healthy needs of the people and that the assistance by the donor community through the EU was a gesture worthy appreciating and pledged Zambia’s commitment to ensure the facility is preserved and kept for the intended purposes in its quest to continue providing health needs for the people in rural and urban set ups.

‘Smart Zambia electronic system to save US$7mln incurred in printing paper wage slips for public workers ………the US$440 mln-worth electronic payment system to enhance ICT, efficiency

File photo: Electronic payments headed for Zambia---to cost save resources
June 16 (Zambia Informer)------Zambia’s quest to reduce bureaucracy and possible pilfering in the procurement of goods And services has taken off in earnest with the introduction of the US$440 million Smart Zambia project being rolled out in which public service workers will now receive their wages electronically.
Smart Zambia National Coordinator,  Martin Mulenga says the new electronic system, to come into effect by August this year, will save the country in excess of US$7 million spent monthly in printing paper wage slips.
The electronic payment system will be extended to all Government departments in all procurements for goods and services will be done electronically unlike cash to avert pilferage and reduce the cost of doing business.
According to Mulenga, the system-dubbed Smart Zambia has partially been rolled out with some senior public workers receiving their wages electronically. After August, all civil servants’ email and other relevant information will be compiled in a data base to defray costs as a measure to enhance efficiency as the country embraces the Information Communication Technology ICT).
 “We have done all the quality tests and we have since distributed a memo to all departments and we expect all heads of departments to submit emails and other relevant data of the workers for inclusion in our data base as no one will receive paper pay slips after August this year but will be notified through emails” Dr Mulenga added.
Speaking during the launch of the Ministry of National Development Planning Website in Lusaka, June 15 Mulenga stated that the non renewable contractual obligations with the suppliers for paper ends this August because of  the introduction of electronic pay slips.
Early this year, Minister of Transport and Communication Brian Mushimba stated that Zambia has sought to introduce electronic applications in doing business hence the setting up the US$440 million worth Zambia National Data Centre to enable Government offer services online.

Mushimba, who inspected the works at ZNDC was satisfied with the quality of works describing it phase one of the Smart Zambia programme. He had expressed hope that the introduction of the new system would defray expenses and allow Government to utilize the resources in other viable projects.
 “This is part of the Smart Zambia phase one project as we move to electronic-government system, which will see Government provide all services online.
“We are working on modalities to reduce the cost of information communication technology (ICT) services in the country because Zambia is one of the countries with the highest cost in ICT services, which needs to be redressed if more people access the electronic system of doing business in various sector.
Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) director general Margaret Mudenda had stated during the same occasion that ICT remains pivotal to a country’s development.
The three-tier data centre will be able to store information for Government as well as private institutions without worrying about losing it.
“The national data centre is one way of preparing for the future, this is one of the latest modes of storing data,” she said.
At the same occasion, ZNDC general manager Garry Mukelebai assured that the data centre will be down for only 94 minutes in a year with an assurance to stakeholders of access to their data at all times.
Zambia’s ICT’s advancement programme comes under the auspices of Chinese-owned Huawei Technologies that introduced a 3G techn9ology in Zambia over five years ago as part of ICT advancement in the country.
It will further assist the Government to accelerate the electronic-commerce programme through the provision of appropriate workable strategies  focusing on development of broadband infrastructure, digital content, human capacity and supporting innovation by both public and private sector organizations under Smart Zambia.
 Under phase one-Zambia constructed the national data centre,  public ICT training facilities and teleconferencing facilities to  spur the utilisation of ICTs, generation of local digital content and innovations in the sector.
Huawei Technology Zambia country director Emilion Ming stated that  countries around the world including Zambia have entered into a new era of in-depth integration of ICTs, changing the way the organisation’s deliver on demand services to the public,  how governments operate and how institutions manage their businesses.
Huawei has in the past 12 years supported the development of Zambia’s telecommunications industry and is currently one of the leading pioneers within Zambia’s technology sector, providing the most comprehensive IT portfolio in the industry to customers in the telecom, enterprise and consumer space.

Unions forge links to enhance workers rights ……..’The partnership is a yardstick to improved industrial harmony at the institution to foster high productivity’

June 14 (Zambia Informer) ------ The Zambia Union of Government and Allied Workers (UG) and the National Youth Development Council (NYDC) at the University of Zambia have joined hands to collaborate and foster sound industrial relations to better the welfare of public serviced workers, many that are in employment but lack representation, putting their jobs at risk.

The UG, which was set up last year and has garnered a membership in excess of 6,000 from various Government departments, has sought recognition from the NYDC to foster good industrial relation practices and ensure good bargaining practices as espoused under the country’s Industrial relations Act.

During the signing of the agreement at the Youth Development Centre at the University of Zambia in Lusaka, Wednesday, UG president Muyaywa Mwiyaluka, the forging of hands by the two bodies is an effort intended to safeguard the welfare of several Government workers that are at risk of losing their benefits once they lose employment for want of representation to assist them bargain for good collective agreements and ensure job security.

The collaboration has been mooted after realization that in the absence of such co-existence, there would not be industrial harmony between the employers and the employees, both that are supposed to contribute to the well-being of their institutions as a team, which is key to efficiency and enhanced productivity for a meaningful society.

The forging of hands between the UG and the NYDC is ostensibly to create or enhance an environment where the latter shall or be owned by the management and staff at the country’s highest institution of learning. The 'joinder'  is expected to create an environment where there is no management and no staff, but there be a team with a mandate to deliver to the youths of the country.

Key among the objectives of the UG will include discussing employment conditions of service for  NYDC workers without using old adversarial approaches of demands and responses but will seek to engage everyone; workers representatives and management representatives with the ultimate goal to design what is in the best interest of the employees and the institution.

In the aftermath of the signing of the collaboration initiative, UG secretariat will be expected to urgently set up a department of workers committee and commence the employees workplace Environment assessment of NYDC to pick out issues that require to be addressed by both parties amicably to foster industrial harmony at the institution.

It would be folly for any union to exist yet it does not meet the expectations of the workers or members it seeks to represent hence UG will seek to strive to ensure it remains relevant to the desires and expectations of all its members.

However, UG is mindful not to compel all the workers at the institution to belong to only one union but will have a choice to decide which unions that should associate with and meet their expectations.

 However, Mwiyaluka stated that members should be free to resign and join other unions if they feel their expectations of effective representation does not meet their desires as this will assist them decide how and what they will benefit from belonging to any particular union and ultimately see the incentives accrued from such an association.

And NYDC Secretary General, John Nsululu commended UG for being chosen by  NYDC for being chosen to partner with UG among several unions at the institution and it is hoped the partnership will act as a yardstick of an effective  representation  to NYDC staff unionized staff.

Nsululu  noted  that  modern trade unions movements seek to remain partners with employers in improving the conditions of service for employees, not necessary being antagonistic to the employers for the sake harmony and increased productivity, a trend which he hoped would continue as espoused by Government to ensure the rights of liberties of workers to decide a union of choice is upheld.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Invest in youths, President Lungu implores Africa ………..’They are vital cog for the continent’s peace, stability and economic growth’

Filephoto: Africa should invest in youths than use them as war shields

June 9 (Zambia Informer) -------Investing in the youth remains a corner stone for a prosperous and stable African continent but the young people equally, have an important role to play in enhance economic development of  the economies on the continent, Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, has observed.

Several countries in the Sub Saharan region have been indirectly impacted by political violence and crisis, culminating in displacements and humanitarian emergencies. 

These situations, coupled with limited employment and empowerment opportunities for the youth, President Lungu notes, provide a fertile ground for recruitment of youth into extremist groups which perpetuate violence including armed conflict. 

Officiating at the meeting of Ministers in charge of Youth Affairs from Member States of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region in Livingstone, Friday, June 9, President Lungu said it was against this background that the continent needs to vigorously implement decisions and initiatives to create optimal opportunities for the youth.

The recently held African Heads of States and Government had directed the secretariat to develop a regional strategy to address youth unemployment. Its outcome has since culminated into a regional strategy now being mooted and is expected to be tabled during the same ministers hosted by Zambia on the plight of the youths.

It is President Lungu’s fervent desire that the meeting would scrutinize and devise solutions to the problems besetting the youths which include reviewing how the levels of unemployment on the continent can be redressed as yardstick to among other commitments, eradicating poverty and assist integrate the youth in the region’s socio-economic development. 

“Member states of the Great Lakes Region must take individual and collective measures aimed at integrating the youth into the socio-economic development agenda to achieve and realise the rights and potential of the youth.” He said while proposing various countervailing measures.

Including;  developing macroeconomic policies that focus on job creation particularly for women and youth; regulating the informal economy in order to prevent unfair labour practices where the majority of youth work; enhancing the attractiveness of rural areas to the youth by improving access to educational, health, recreational and cultural services and training the youth to take up agriculture, aquaculture, mineral, commercial and industrial production and communication technologies to gain access to markets.

Other countervailing measures to cushion their plight include; providing land to the youth for socio-economic development; facilitating access to credit to promote youth participation in sustainable livelihood projects; facilitating the participation of young people in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of national development and poverty reduction strategies.

It remains cardinal for leaders to ensure they foster greater linkages between the labour market and training systems to ensure that curricula are aligned to the needs of the labour market; promote youth entrepreneurship through inclusion of  entrepreneurship training in the school curricula, providing access to credit, business development skills training, mentorship opportunities and  better information on market opportunities.

Youths be further be availed incentive schemes for employers to invest in skills development for youths; ensuring equal access to employment and equal pay for equal work and protection against discrimination of any sorts and whose measures should be implemented in the context of each country’s respective statutes. 

Countries on the African continent need to initiate deliberate and user-friendly policies that will allow young people to gainful employment and ultimately protect them from exploitative tendencies.

“The region must also ensure that every young person has the right to gainful employment, protected from economic exploitation, access to quality education and health services.” added President Lungu stating that youths  too have the responsibility to defend democracy, the rule of law and all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The youth, President Lungu observed are custodians of their own development and this in turns allows governments to create an enabling environment to facilitate the youth developmental agenda hence the need for concerned authorities to design programmes that enables youths  to realise their roles and responsibilities towards families, society, state and the international community at large.

President Lungu, however, challenged youths to show responsibility in the welfare of the continent and ensure its stability through tolerance, understanding, dialogue, consultation and respect for others regardless of age, race, ethnicity, colour, gender, religious status or indeed political affiliation.

Meanwhile President Lungu has commended the technical support committee of the regional over-sight mechanism for ensuring the implementation of commitments of the peace, security and cooperation framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the region following signature by 13 countries in Addis Ababa, on 24 February, 2013.

The offices of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General and the Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region,  has since been implored to remain as guarantors of the peace, security and cooperation framework,  to continue supporting programmes aimed at fostering peace and stability in the region.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Lake Kariba water intake jumps 50% ………’Can power production for Zimbabwe, Zambia bolster’

Is water really oozing out of Kariba Dam to overcome power cuts?
June 8 (Zambia Informer) -------- Water levels in Lake Kariba-the 60-year-old man-made water resource have more than risen in the aftermath of the just ended rainy season, raising hopes of increased power generation by Zimbabwe and Zambia with end users expected to directly benefit through reduced outages.

With the climaxing of the 2016/2017  season, water intake in the lake has jumped from a low 12 percent recorded mid last year to over 54 percent, with an anticipated further increase of levels as tributaries including Zambezi River continue pouring in their ‘overspills’.

A report by the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), the regulators of the lake, housing over 10 billion litres of  water says water levels had risen to 54 percent as at 23 May, raising the lake levels to  0.13 metres to close at 482.91 metres. 

With the water levels to further increase to over 60 percent, the regulators forecast  that the dam could reach the maximum and force spillway gates to re-open again and thrush excess water and save the dam, awaiting facelift under a US$280 million-donor funded programme, from collapsing.

The levels, attained to date, are well  above the levels recorded during the same time last year, which stood at over 33  per cent,  representing  479.85 metres.  The Lake was designed to operate at  averages 475.50 metres and  488.50 metres with 0.70 metres freeboard at all times, according to data. 

The rise in water levels, raises a ray of hope of reduced power outages being induced by Zimbabwe and Zambia’s power providers-ZESA and Zesco. In recent months, Zambia and Zimbabwe have struggled with poor power generation, transmission and distribution because of low water intake in Lake Kariba, one of the six reservoirs where the commodity is tapped for hydro power generation.

The development, is a scare away from the effects of the El Nino which resulted in serious drought for Zimbabwe, Zambia and other countries, including Mozambique and over 355 million inhabitants that depend on the water from Kariba for their survival.

Aquatic life was also under threat as the fish industry in both Zambia and Zimbabwe was forced to induce regulations to save the depleting water and fish species from depleting from the uncouth fishermen and other companies that pry their lives of fish trading and production.

A recent interview with Zimbabwe River Authority (ZRA) spokeswoman,  Elizabeth Karonga revealed that the water levels in Kariba  had  increased despite the current dry weather conditions that has and continue prevailing in many of the SADC countries which was as a result of low rainfall patterns recorded.

According to Karonga,  the water level had as at 31 March last year risen to 19 percent  and recorded a level of 487.38 metres as at 3 April. The 487.38m, was indicative of  20 percent storage capacity.
The rise in water levels had been attributed to the rains that fell in the catchment area which ZRA attributed the rise in hope of normal resumption of power generation in Zimbabwe and Zambia while improving the fish sector.

This followed an earlier cap imposed on Zambia and Zimbabwe on how water could be consumed daily through the power utilities to scale down water losses.
The rising  in water levels have helped allay fears  in both Zambia and Zimbabwe of a possible total blackout or indeed shutdown of the hydroelectric power stations supplying  power to Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Lake Kariba is the world’s largest man-made lake and reservoir by volume. It lies 1 300 kilometres upstream from the Indian Ocean along the border between Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe. According to data, the lake was filled between 1958 and 1963 following the completion of the Kariba Dam wall by an Italian company to assist the two neighbours-Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Kariba Town on the Zimbabwean side was built for workers constructing the dam while other settlements such as Binga and Mlibizi in Zimbabwe and Siavonga and Sinazongwe in Zambia have grown up to house people displaced by the rising waters.

The lake is over 223 kilometres long and up to 40 kilometres in width. It covers a total area of 5, 580 square kilometers and its storage capacity is a massive 185 cubic kilometers. The enormous mass of water which is about 180,000,000,000,000 kilogrammes is believed to have in the past caused induced seismicity in the seismically active region including over 20 earthquakes of greater than 5 magnitude on the Ritcher scale.

The lake houses among other islands, Maaze, Mashape, Chete, Sekula, Sampa Karuma, Fothergill, Spurwing, Snake Island, Antelope Island, Bed Island and Chikanka.