THE Zambian economy has for quite some time now been performing reasonably well in most instances posting better results than the regional growth rate.
The country has been recording splendid performance in most of the macro-economic indicators, mostly meeting all the major benchmarks.
For the last few years the economic performance has continued to be positive, positing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 6.8 per cent in 2011 and 7.3 per cent in 2012, for instance.
The rate of inflation has remained within the single-digit bracket.
Hence, the country has been receiving accolades from various rating agencies and world economic bodies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and not so long ago the World Economic Forum (WEF) named it as the continent's number seven most competitive economy.
Just on Tuesday, an IMF team which visited Lusaka during September 17-24 period to conclude the 2013 Article IV Consultation discussions with Zambia hailed the country's economy.
The team said that the Zambian economy has continued to expand at a rapid pace with overall output growth projected at six per cent this year.
Moreover, at 7.1 per cent, the year-on-year inflation for August remains broadly at last year's level.
We, however, agree with President Michael Sata that despite all these superlatives, Zambia is still haunted by the challenge of unemployment and its twin sister poverty.
This is despite the recognised fact that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has, since inception in 2011, created more than 316,089 jobs.
The 316, 089 jobs were created in various sectors of the economy between October 2011 and July this year.
This year alone, the Government projects to create 200,000 job opportunities but there are still many more people seeking employment what with the many years of stagnation in terms of job creation and the number of school-leavers join file of job seekers.
As President Sata said, the Government still has the huge task of ensuring that the basic needs of Zambians are met, and there is no better way of doing that than by tackling poverty and unemployment.
We further support the Government's advocacy for investments that create real and sustainable employment prospects, while at the same time making the economy more labour-absorbing as opposed to the massive use of machinery.
Indeed, one of the surest ways of effective fight against poverty and lack of basic livelihood among the citizenry is by fostering job creation and the two-year PF administration has shown that it can be done!
Interestingly, most of the projects including the national budget carry targets for job opportunities thereby stressing the willpower by the Government to create more jobs for the people, especially the youths, about 300,000 of who are being offloaded to the labour market yearly.
Another surest way of combating the pangs of poverty is through the promoting of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs), who would first create jobs for themselves and later for others.
This should be done by Government coming up with policies which are conducive to the promotion of local SMEs who would be able to graduate into formidable firms which would create further employment opportunities.
Admittedly, a strong foundation has been laid for significant reduction in poverty and unemployment but various job opportunity-generating projects should be strapped up to ensure sustainability.