TRANSPORT and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba says Government was able to achieve most of its set objectives in 2017 in the transport and communication sectors.
Mr. Mushimba says the Ministry recorded its greatest accomplishment of the year after Cabinet approved the reintroduction of Zambia Airways (2014) Limited in partnership with Ethiopian Airlines which will gobble an investment outlay of US$30 million in the first year of its operations.
In the year under review, construction of the US$60 million Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport was completed and the facility is operational.
Works on Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) had reached an advanced stage with 65 per cent of the works completed.
“Volumes of the works completed on site at present stands at 65 per cent which is on good schedule for timely completion as planned in 2019,” Mr. Mushimba says.
He says for the third time in a row Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL) handed over another dividend cheque worth K5 miliion to the treasury.
The Ministry has also started implementing the transformation plan for Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI) aimed at contributing to human capacitation and its growth.
On the back of several intervention due to poor road safety, the Government signed Statutory Instruments (SI’s) which saw road traffic accidents in 2017 going down to 1,391 from 1,740 the previous year, representing a 20 per cent reduction.
During the year under review, the Ministry drafted the National Transport Policy and developed the Transport Master Plan which is slated for dissemination this year.
Mr. Mushimba says headways were made in the railway industry with feasibility study and engineering designs completed for Greenfield Nseluka- Mpulungu to be developed at a total cost of US$990 million.
This project will be undertaken under Public Private Partnership Agreement (PPP).
In the year under review, the feasibility study report for the brownfield projects of revamping Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) and Tanzania Zambia Railway (TAZARA) were completed.
From the above feasibility study two sections of Mulobezi to Kafue and Kafue to Chililabombwe were completed and approved at an estimated cost of US$2 billion.
Statutory Instrument (SI) to shift 30 per cent of bulk cargo from road to rail was drafted and Mr. Mushimba says his Ministry has since engaged the Business Regulatory Review Agency (BRRA) to ascertain the regulatory impact of the SI on business.
During the year, Cabinet approved the proposal for Government to acquire 30 per cent shares in North-Western Railway Company which will formally commence the construction of Chingola – Jimbe Railway project under PPP arrangement.
Information Communication Technology (ICT)
In the year under review, following Cabinet’s approval the Ministry signed four SI’s that effectively introduced a new licensing regime for existing and prospective operators in the ICT sector.
The new licensing framework ushered in further liberalisation in the telecommunication market, which is poised to see a new entrant of a Mobile Network Operator in Zambia.
The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) floated a request to tender for issuance of a national and international license to a fourth mobile service provider. ZICTA has smoothly migrated all the existing licensing holders to the new licensing framework.
“The enhancement in the policy and legal framework for the country also encouraged existing operators in the communication sector to invest in infrastructure and service upgrades. This has seen the price of internet data bundles starting to drop promoting competition led by market forces,” Mr. Mushimba says.
The Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, ZICTA and other stakeholders is concluding the drafting and transcribing of Cyber Security and Cybercrime Bill, the Data Protection Bill, the e-Transactions and e-Commerce Bill which will be presented to Cabinet at the beginning of the first quarter of 2018.
Amongst other things the Bills will propose the establishment of the Zambia National Cyber Security Agency that will coordinate all cyber security related matters in the country promotional social and economic growth in the face of technological advancements.
The Ministry also in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice will be presenting the Information Communication and Technology Society of Zambia (ICTSZ) Bill to Parliament in 2018.
The Bill is meant to provide a legal framework for the regulation of ICT professionals and organisation and further promote the development and use of ICT in the country.
In the year under review, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu President of the Republic of Zambia witnessed the signing of US$280 million financing framework agreement with the People’s Republic of China for the Supply, Delivery, Installation and Commissioning of Communication Towers under phase 2.
This will see a total of 1,009 communication towers to be constructed and upgraded across the country in the unserved and underserved areas.
As at December 2017, a total 88 towers have since been constructed across the country and various modernization works have been done on the existing ZAMTEL platforms to enhance the company’s ability to compete favorably in the wake of new technologies and services.
The Ministry has also partnered with Ministry of Higher Education to develop a Cyber City which shall be done with full private sector participation and is intended to attract investments in technological research and development and practical skills development that would enhance our local human and corporate ICT capabilities for private and public entities.
“The Zambia Cyber City will be a business innovation hub, comprising workspaces, light manufacturing facilities, data canter to catalyse educational research and innovation for small and medium enterprises; condominiums for knowledge workers and executives; and a commercial canter for technology retailers and much more,” he says.
Water Transport Sub-Sector
In the year under review, the water Transport sub-sector continued to record steady progress across the country following an increased demand for marine infrastructure support services. The Ministry procured and delivered one 24 seater passenger vessel on Lake Bangweulu in Samfya District.
Further, two 120 seater passenger vessels are expected to be deployed in the first quarter of this year on Lake Mweru and Bangweulu.
The Ministry also distributed five dredgers across the country with a view to ensuring that waterways remain navigable throughout the year.
The Ministry commenced the rehabilitation of seven traditional canals in the Barotse Plains of Western Province at the cost of US$36 million aimed at ensuring the canals remain navigable throughout the year.
Mr. Mushimba says that the Government started revising the Inland waters Shipping Act Cap 466 and the Provisional Merchant Shipping Act Cap 468 of the laws of Zambia so that the water transport sector remains responsive to the global maritime trend.
He says his Ministry has started the process of creating the Zambia Maritime and Inland Waterways Authority which will promote and regulate water transportation and bring efficiency in the maritime subsectors of our country.
In 2017, the Ministry continued with the modernization of the Mpulungu Port and to that effect a feasibility Study to develop Detailed Engineering Designs are underway and shall conclude second quarter of 2018.
The study is being financed by African Development Bank (AfDB) at the cost US$1.4788 million.
In 2017, Cabinet approved the Meteorological Bill aimed at partial commercialisation of meteorological services as well as strengthening and streamlining the mandate of the department
The Ministry strengthened its early warming systems to help farmers prevent and mitigate against climate related hazards such as floods, extreme temperatures and prolonged dry spell.
The Ministry also started the development of a strategic plan for improvement and sustainability of meteorological service provision in Zambia with the support of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
During the year under review, the 2017/2018 Rain Season forecast was produced in September and disseminated across the country which gave an outlook of the overall performance of rainfall for the 2017/2018 rainfall season.
Weather and climate are the most important factors that determine the distribution and abundance of crop insect pests and parasites of animals. Weather controls the development rate, survival and activity of insects, the phenology, distribution size, and growth rate of insect populations, migration and establishment and the initiation of insect outbreaks.
“My Ministry with the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders worked together to predict the occurrence of armyworms during the 2017/2018 rainy season. We also worked together to disseminate weather, climate and agricultural information to rural farmers,” Mr. Mushimba says.
Therefore, 2017 was a successful year for the Ministry as it was able to achieve most of its set deliverables, setting a strong foundation for 2018. We thank Members of Staff for their dedication and commitment and various stakeholders for their contribution towards the Ministry’s success.