World Bank Group fore­casts 3.2% growth for Sub Sa­hara Africa - SSA

Zambian Business Times - - POLITICS AND GOVERNMENTS -

Since 2014, many coun­tries have taken ad­van­tage of lower prices to re­duce en­ergy sub­si­dies, and some have im­ple­mented broader struc­tural re­forms.

Ed­u­ca­tion De­mo­graph­ics and Global In­equal­ity.

An ex­pected shift in the skill com­po­si­tion of the global la­bor force will have im­por­tant con­se­quences for the fu­ture of global in­equal­ity.

Specif­i­cally, a bet­ter-ed­u­cated la­bor force from emerg­ing mar­ket and de­vel­op­ing economies will likely re­duce in­equal­ity be­tween coun­tries.

It could mit­i­gate, es­pe­cially in EMDEs, the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of within-coun­try in­equal­ity that may re­sult from other de­vel­op­ments, in­clud­ing in­creas­ing ur­ban­iza­tion, skill-bi­ased tech­no­log­i­cal change, la­bor mar­ket fric­tions that cause per­sis­tent un­em­ploy­ment, or trade that raises skill pre­mia. By Don­ald Mumba

MACROMANAGEMENT of a coun­try can be likened to a mi­cro unit level with ap­pli­ca­tion of man­age­ment prin­ci­ples of a sin­gle unit fam­ily house­hold such as ba­sic needs such as the food, cloth­ing and shel­ter. Once the ba­sics are avail­able and met, the needs evolve and grow to host of other more so­phis­ti­cated needs such as se­cu­rity, re­cre­ation, leisure and right at the top, self-ac­tu­al­iza­tion and re­spect for the most ac­com­plished mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

The re­cent Cholera out­break has in­deed ex­posed that fact that Zam­bia as a na­tion had a non-func­tional or rather dys­func­tional Lo­cal gov­ern­ment sys­tem. The sys­tem had bro­ken down af­ter the his­tor­i­cal de­ci­sions mostly to cen­tral­ize op­er­a­tions of the coun­try into the ad­min­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal of Lusaka. The cen­tral­iza­tion cause in it­self is not a bad idea, buts it is the lev­els of how de­ci­sions mak­ing and power is cen­tral­ized, dis­trib­uted and del­e­gated that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

The re­cent ban of street vend­ing in Lusaka has in­deed been an eye opener not only for the need to have a work­ing and prop­erly func­tion­ing Lo­cal gov­ern­ment sys­tem, but also the sig­nif­i­cance of the street vend­ing/trad­ing as an em­ployer in Lusaka and Zam­bia in gen­eral. The Min­is­ter of Lo­cal gov­ern­ment, Vin­cent Mwale who came un­der fire for the Bro­ken down sys­tem has hence­forth pledged to fix the sys­tem and fully im­ple­ment the de­cen­tral­iza­tion pol­icy.

The Min­is­ter of Lo­cal gov­ern­ment put out 22,000 as the to­tal num­ber of street ven­dors or traders that need to be pro­vided with san­itable and struc­tured trad­ing places meet­ing pub­lic health laid down stan­dards. This di­rectly trans­lates to 22, 000 jobs pro­vid­ing a liveli­hood to over 121,000 in­di­vid­u­als tak­ing the av­er­age house­hold size of 5.5 in Zam­bia. Let’s put this num­ber as re­flect­ing only for those to be re­lo­cated, so if you add the ones al­ready oc­cu­py­ing li­censed and des­ig­nated mar­kets and trad­ing places, you could not be fur­ther from the truth if you pro­jected that we have over 30,000 peo­ple em­ployed as street ven­dors in Lusaka only af­fect­ing the lives of over 165,000 de­pen­dants.

A quick look at the ex­ist­ing com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment em­ployee sta­tis­ti­cal records in Zam­bia, it will show that it can only be the civil ser­vice as an em­ployer that can come close to com­par­ing to the num­bers that are in­for­mally trad­ing on the streets. This shows that this is not a mat­ter that needs a ca­sual ap­proach, but a com­pre­hen­sive and well re­searched ap­proach on how best to for­mal­ize and in­deed eco­nom­i­cally lever­age this sec­tor.

There is need for the high­est of­fice in Zam­bia, the pres­i­dency to take this mat­ter up and en­sure that its solved in the most work­able and less de­struc­tive way. So­lu­tions for Lusaka can then be ex­tended to other nine re­gions or prov­inces of Zam­bia.

The lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will need to do ex­ten­sive stud­ies on how many li­censes and stands should be given to how many traders to en­sure that our peo­ple op­er­ate in a reg­u­lated mar­ket. This re­quires strong lead­er­ship that is able to fol­low through and take cor­rec­tive mea­sures as dif­fer­ent so­lu­tions are im­ple­mented. There is no sil­ver bul­let for re­solv­ing the street vend­ing co­nun­drum in the ab­sence of proper eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and de­liv­ery of em­ploy­ment al­ter­na­tives to Zam­bians.

An­other rev­e­la­tion sup­port­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of re­tail trade from the Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fice - CSO re­port for quar­ter 3, 2017 cu­mu­la­tive Gross Do­mes­tic Pro­duc­tion - GDP num­bers re­gard­ing in­dus­try con­tri­bu­tion shows that ‘for­mal’ Whole­sale and Re­tail trade in­dus­try ac­counted for about 18.4%, fol­lowed by Min­ing and quar­ry­ing at 13.7%. Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries ac­counted for 12.8%, Con­struc­tion in­dus­try for 8% while man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pleted the top 5 list with an in­dus­try con­tri­bu­tion of 7.2%

With the rapid ur­ban­iza­tion that has not been matched with equal devel­op­ment and avail­abil­ity of low and medium cost hous­ing across the ma­jor cities and towns in Zam­bia, it has led to the mush­room­ing of ‘in­for­mal set­tle­ments’ pop­u­larly called shanty com­pounds. These set­tle­ments have grown and to­day house the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion set­tled in the ma­jor cities and town in Zam­bia.

Some pol­icy mak­ers have pro­posed plans to raze down these un­planned set­tle­ments, but the ini­ti­ated know that this method is a non-starter. You can­not take away shel­ter from peo­ple be­fore you pro­vide al­ter­na­tive and bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties to get buy in from the in­for­mal set­tle­ments dwellers. The more fea­si­ble ac­tion is for­mal­iz­ing and in­for­mal set­tle­ment.

For­mal­iz­ing an in­for­mal set­tle­ment is per­haps the best op­tion and has proved world­wide and even at in­dus­try level that it takes care of the in­ter­est of both par­ties, the af­fected in­di­vid­u­als who will en­joy bet­ter fa­cil­i­ties in terms of pro­vi­sion of util­i­ties such as wa­ter, en­ergy and waste dis­posal meth­ods while the gov­ern­ment will im­prove the stan­dards of liv­ing for its cit­i­zens, an ul­ti­mate aim for any gov­ern­ment or po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tive worth its salt.

Some ser­vices like elec­tric­ity ser­vices pro­vi­sions by the Zam­bia Elec­tric­ity Sup­ply Cor­po­ra­tion - ZESCO have rel­a­tively done bet­ter. The state reg­u­la­tor, the En­ergy Reg­u­la­tions Board - ERB has been at the fore­front of sup­port­ing poli­cies for in­creased elec­tric­ity cov­er­age, life­line tar­iff ne­go­ti­a­tions as well as mak­ing the re­quire­ments for get­ting an elec­tric­ity con­nec­tion more at­tain­able for the ma­jor­ity of users to qual­ify. The ru­ral elec­tri­fi­ca­tion pro­ject is the other ele­ment, though its suc­cess rate re­mains ques­tion­able as elec­tric­ity cov­er­age in the vast coun­try of Zam­bia has a long way to go.

Com­ing to the Wa­ter & Sew­er­age ser­vices pro­vi­sion and reg­u­la­tion across Zam­bia, the Na­tional Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Coun­cil - NWASCO has been dis­mally per­form­ing. The re­sults and sta­tis­tics on the ground show that both clean and treated wa­ter pro­vi­sion, sew­er­ages ser­vices cov­er­age have largely re­mained stag­nant with lit­tle move­ment. They are the reg­u­la­tor that are charged with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for pric­ing, for life­line tar­iff pro­vi­sions as well as en­sur­ing reach of clean and treated wa­ter as well as hu­man waste dis­posal fa­cil­i­ties are de­liv­ered to the ma­jor­ity of Zam­bians. We are not ag­i­tat­ing for free ser­vices here, but a well-balanced and cal­cu­lated reg­u­la­tory wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion sup­ply regime and mar­ket based poli­cies that can sup­port the de­liv­ery of these life sup­port­ing fa­cil­i­ties to the ma­jor­ity of Zam­bians.

It is also time for the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties countrywide to work up from their slum­ber and stop com­plain­ing about his­tor­i­cal chal­lenges. They need to start to demon­strate that they can man­age their af­fairs pro­fes­sion­ally and com­pe­tently. Even as the de­cen­tral­iza­tion pol­icy is be­ing im­ple­mented, we need to see the lo­cal city and town mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties take charge of park­ing spa­ces, li­cens­ing and reg­u­la­tion of lo­cal bus and taxi trans­port ser­vices, li­cens­ing and en­sur­ing healthy trad­ing and busi­ness prac­tices in their ar­eas of ju­ris­dic­tion. They also need to win trust by hav­ing eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion when al­lo­ca­tion of plots and var­i­ous other ser­vices such as garbage col­lec­tion, land rates col­lec­tions for them to win the trust of be­ing del­e­gated more re­spon­si­bil­ity and funds con­trol.

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