1 January 2013

Zambia: 2013 - a Year of Hope


AS we enter 2013, citizens are highly expectant of a better life having witnessed the laying of a foundation for growth last year and during the last quarter of 2011.

The Government will have to ensure efficient implementation of the 2013 national Budget and prudent utilisation of public resources.

Firstly, the Patriotic Front Government started its development agenda on a national scale by re-aligning and creating new districts and an additional province - Muchinga.

This is part of the decentralisation process which makes administration and development process much easier.

The process has political, economic and social benefits because it promotes participation by the majority in accessing services and also makes Government operations and planning more efficient.

So far, Zambia has close to a 100 districts from about 73 during the MMD administration.

In the newly created districts and Muchinga Province, there will be rapid infrastructure development by the Government on one hand and the private sector on the other.

For instance, the Government will put up social infrastructure such as district hospitals and health centres with attendant structures such as houses for members of staff.

Private sector players will also put up structures and business ventures to service new communities in their quest to grow and get reasonable return on their investment.

Secondly, the Government has launched the Link Zambia 8000 Project , a massive infrastructure development programme that will result in the construction of about 2,290 kilometres of roads at an estimated cost of K7.9 trillion in the first phase.

The second phase will cover 3,049km of road network at an estimated cost of K11.25 trillion while the third phase will involve upgrading 2, 862km of road network with at K9 trillion.

The launch of the project in September last year signalled the beginning of a revolution to modernise Zambia and subsequently convert it into a complete land-linked country.

All projects under the Link Zambia 8000 programme are expected to be carried out over a five-year period.

In the health sector, Intensive Care Units are being set up in all hospitals to strengthen the provision of quality health care while K204billion will this year be spent on upgrading the University Teaching Hospital, Ndola Central Hospital, Kitwe Central Hospital and Livingstone General Hospital.

Each of the hospitals would be equipped with state-of-the-art CT Scans to improve diagnosis and treatment.

The education sector is equally receiving a boost through infrastructure development, expansion and creation of learning institutions and recruitment of professionals.

By any measure this is a strong foundation in infrastructure development in the social sector.

However, the Government needs to fine-tune the agriculture sector to make maize marketing more efficient and sustainable to both farmers and the State.

Crop diversification must be accelerated while livestock breeding and nurturing also needs urgent attention.

The tax administration in the mining industry must be improved to prevent tax avoidance and evasion.

It was shocking to learn recently that more than £5billion has been illegally siphoned out of Zambia over 10 years arising from crime, corruption and tax evasion.

The lost money, most of which can be traced to multinational copper mining operations, is equivalent to almost half of Zambia's Gross Domestic product.

Youth unemployment has also been a major challenge which needs to be tackled side by side with the rising crime levels.

If all these critical aspect are addressed, this year will be a period of hope and inspiration for Zambia.

Wishing you a prosperous New Year!

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