By Davies Mwila
BUILDING ON THE PROMISE THROUGH THE 7NDP
On 21st June 2017, His Excellency President Edgar Lungu launched the 7th National Development Plan running from 2017 to 2021, with a pledge to build a resilient and diversified economy.
President Lungu said that the plan indicates government’s commitment to planning, as the gateway to the Vision 2030 target, which is a long term national aspiration. The President said that was need to implement the five-year development plan within the principle of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, where no one should be left behind.
The 7NDP is also in tandem with the vision and objectives of the ruling Patriotic Front under its 2016-2021 Manifesto under the Theme “Towards a Prosperous, Peaceful, Stable and all-inclusive Zambia under One Zambia, One Nation”, promising a robust and diversified economy aimed at creating a better life for all Zambians. But the question still lingers on: How shall we get this done?
Launching the 7NDP, President Lungu observed as follows:
“Let us all work hard and show commitment to the development of our country. Let us all learn from and be inspired by the amazing and successful development experiences of countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. Indeed, nothing is impossible.”
I have picked on Singapore for this article in an attempt to discuss the “HOW” question.
Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore and Singapore’s first Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990 revealed that:
“I discovered early in office that there were few problems confronting me in government that other governments had not met and solved. So I made a practice of finding out who else had met the problem we faced, how they had tackled it, and how successfully they had been. Whether it was to build a new airport or to change our teaching methods, I would send a team of officers to visit and study those countries that had done it well. I preferred to climb the shoulders of others who had gone before us.”
Indeed, as Zambia continues on its goal to become a prosperous middle income country by 2030, the country needs to remember the valuable shared by Singapore’s founding father and “climb the shoulders of others who had gone before us”.
Fortunately, Zambia remains committed to the socio-economic development planning of the country as reflected by the return to development planning in 2005. Therefore, within the context of development planning in Zambia, and the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP) in particular; Zambia can “climb the shoulders of others who had gone before” by, among others:
- Learning from international best practices, and
- Using an integrated approach by the 7NDP to create an environment for the domestication of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), AU Agenda 2063, RISDP and other international, regional, multilateral and bilateral development strategies.
The Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) departs from sectoral-based planning to an integrated (multi-sectoral) development approach under the theme “Accelerating development efforts towards the Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind”.
The above mentioned ambitious goal is attainable as evidenced by Singapore and South Korea, among others. Therefore, the tenets of the 7NDP will be also be reviewed in relation to what other countries such as Singapore did to overcome similar challenges which Zambia faces today.
In keeping with the above, the 7NDP is focused on “accelerating development efforts towards the Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind” through several ways which are underlined in the ensuing paragraphs.
1. The 7NDP, using an integrated approach will, create an environment for the domestication of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), AU Agenda 2063, RISDP and other international, regional, multilateral and bilateral development strategies. Taking this approach in the 7NDP will be a springboard to the promotion of partnerships in a transformative way.
Zambia’s aim to the promote partnerships in a transformative way through the 7NDP holds promising developmental outcomes for the country given that a similar strategy yielded strong and inclusive economic gains for countries such as Singapore. In this regard, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father emphasized the value in demonstrating that neither Singapore nor Singaporeans:
“We were not parasites dependent only on our neighbors. We were linking ourselves to the industrial countries, making ourselves useful to them, manufacturing their products with their technology, exporting them world wide”.
The promotion of partnerships in a transformative way will enable Zambia to surmount its development challenges and create an industrial base without leaving anyone behind.
2. In line with the Theory of Change (ToC) and the integrated approach, the country will simultaneously prioritise investments in areas such as education, skills development and health. In addition there will be need to reform the economy to create adequate decent jobs and enhance good governance and accountability.
Commenting on the significant importance of making massive investments in education and skills development in order to achieve significant economic development, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew spoke extensively to the National Youth Leadership Training Institute on 30th April 1980 on this matter, that:
“We are reaching a plateau in our level of economic progress, given our present levels of knowledge and skills. To climb up to a higher plateau, we have to scale up the ladder of education to acquire more knowledge and higher skills relevant to our next stage of economic progress. Modern industrial society is so complex that unless a people are educated and trained to the maximum levels they can attain, they cannot fulfill the potential their innate ability entitles them to expect. Further, changes in technology are so rapid that large groups of a country’s workforce have to be regularly retrained to keep up with the latest techniques of industrial technology, with new generation aircraft, computers, or whatever.”
3. To accelerate economic growth and job creation the economy will be diversified to reduce over-dependence on the extractive industries, especially copper mining. In addition, agriculture will be modernised to improve productivity and prioritise value addition through agro-industries as the bedrock of transitioning to an industrialised economy.
Indeed, Zambia’s economy has to be diversified to reduce over dependence on a single commodity in copper, and thereby avoid the grave dangers of over-dependence on a single commodity.
Then Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, addressed the issue of over-reliance on natural during the Global Strategies Conference on 6th June 1990 when he said:
“There are some fundamental changes in the determinants of economic strength. In the 19th and early 20th century, comparative advantage in land, people and natural resources plus technology, were the key factors in determining the economic power and success of nations. Mining technology was new. There was limited production of coal and steel. Those nations with the technology to extract coal and produce steel were the first to be industrialised. They had a tremendous economic advantage over other nations. The poorer backward countries were easily defeated and conquered because of the technical inferiority of their armaments and economy.
…. Today, people can gain access to most technology and resources. So the ownership of natural resources or commodities is of no great economic advantage…. In this stage, technology is widely and rapidly available to those with the capacity to absorb the knowledge. And if they have this capacity, they can take the advances further on their own.
The open trading system under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) has provided an alternative route to wealth creation based on trade, investments and transfer of technology and know-how. Those countries that have plugged themselves into this system have prospered.”
More so, according to the 7NDP, agriculture in Zambia will be modernized to improve productivity and prioritise value addition through agro-industries as the bedrock of transitioning to an industrialized economy.
4. Zambia’s comparative advantage lies in its endowment of renewable and natural resources which can be productively harnessed. Overall good climate and soils make organic and climate smart agriculture and processing poised for growth.
Zambia has, and needs to leverage, its comparative advantage in renewal and natural resources to facilitate inclusive development. In addition, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew speaking at the Global Strategies Conference on 6th June revealed that:
“The quality of a nation’s manpower resources is the single most important factor determining national competitiveness. It is a people’s innovativeness, entrepreneurship, team work and their work ethic that give them that sharp keen edge in competitiveness.
Growth in Asia over the …. years has been led by Japan and Asian NIEs. Their histories have given them the cultural ballast to adjust and adapt themselves to the needs of a modern industrial society. Their governments have invested heavily in human resource development. Their ambition and drive will carry them at high rates of growth into the next century.”
Indeed, agriculture and agric processing hold huge potential for broad-based development in Zambia as well as a bedrock for industrialization. However, in order to achieve this, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew speaking on modernizing agriculture and other issues on 30th April 1980 stated that:
“In most underdeveloped agricultural countries, over 90% of the people live off the land. They plant and even hunt for a living. In industrialized nations like America, Europe and Japan, less than 10% of the population is in agriculture. Nevertheless, because agriculture is totally mechanised and most efficient, the Americans and the Europeans produce massive surpluses of wheat, corn, rice, soya bean, beef and butter to export to and feed a hungry world.
Even land-short Japan produces enormous rice surpluses. They achieve this not simply because they have the capital and machinery, but more important because every American, European and Japanese has been educated and trained to his maximum potential; he has the basic knowledge and the skills to use machines to increase productivity and the talented have the knowledge and the brains to design newer and better machines. This ceaseless increase in knowledge and skills has resulted in the technological society.”
5. To achieve the objective of diversification, measures that support reforms which promote institutional realignment and a performance management culture that leads to development accountability will be developed and implemented. Therefore, enhancing governance structures becomes paramount.
Instituting a performance management culture will lead to excellence and efficiency in the way processes are completed in Zambia for sustainable development. In the case of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew revealed that:
“We cannot afford to forget that public order, personal security, economic and social progress, and prosperity are not the natural order of things; that they depend on ceaseless effort and attention from an honest and effective government that the people must elect… We had to work against seemingly insuperable odds to make it from poverty to prosperity in three decades”.
Furthermore, Mr. Lee Yuan Yew also stated that:
“We had to re-establish supervision, discipline, and working norms to get efficiency…. We needed new attitudes, the most important of which was that pay must accord with performance, not time spent on the job…
To survive, we had to be better organized and more efficient and competitive than the rest of the region or there was no reason for our role as a nodal point between the advanced and the developing countries”.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew further revealed that:
“The future is full of promise as it is fraught with uncertainty. The industrial society is giving way to one based on knowledge. The new divide in the world will be between those with the knowledge and those without. We must learn and be part of the knowledge-based world… we stand a better chance of not failing if we abide by the basic principles (of): social cohesion through sharing the benefits of progress, equal opportunities for all, and meritocracy, with the best man or woman for the job, especially as leaders in government”.
In the case of Singapore, a performance management culture was strictly adhered to even within industries or companies started by the government. For example, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew points out that in Singapore:
“The government took the lead by starting new industries such as steel mills (National Iron and Steel Mills) and service industries such as shipping line, Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), and an airline, Singapore Airlines (SIA. I was fearful that these enterprises would result in subsidized and loss-making nationalized corporations as had happened in many new countries… (We therefore) had given clear instructions that the enterprises had to be profitable or be shut down.”
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew concluded that:
“We learned on the job and learned quickly. If there was one formula for our success, it was that we were constantly studying how to make things work, or how to make them work better. I was never a prisoner of any theory. What guided me were reason and reality. The acid test I applied to every theory or scheme was, would it work? This was the golden thread that ran through my years in office. If it did not work or the results were poor, I did not waste more time or resources on it. I almost never made the same mistake twice, and I tried to learn from the mistakes others had made.”
The Author is Secretary General of the ruling Patriotic Front and former Minister of Home Affairs. He also serves as President of the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP).