SWEDEN has adopted a new strategy for development cooperation with Zambia amounting to about US$260 million (SEK2250 million).
The Swedish government has announced that it is increasing its commitment to supporting priority areas in Zambia hence the approval of the new five-year strategy which will run from 2018 to 2022.
In implementing the strategy, Sweden will also work to build wider and more self-supporting relationships between the two countries, where public and private actors in Zambia and Sweden can contribute.
According to the statement released to the media by Nicky Shabolyo, some of the areas prioritised by Sweden in the new strategy are human rights, democracy, the rule of law; gender equality, equal access to health facilities, sexual and reproductive health; environment, climate, renewable energy and sustainable inclusive economic development.
According to the strategy, development cooperation over the next five years will take place based on the principles of development as well as within the new international agreements arrived at by the international community in 2015, the Agenda 2030, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement.
The development cooperation shall be adapted to the prevailing circumstances and implementation shall be flexible and appropriate. In implementing the strategy, Sweden will work to build wider and more self-supporting relations between the two countries.
Sweden will aim to assist Zambia strengthen conditions for domestic resource mobilisation, international trade and investment, and moreover stimulate collaborations that can survive in the long term without need for financing from development cooperation.
The strategy aims to ensure that cooperation and exchange between Zambian and Swedish public and private actors should be considered as part of institutional and capacity development as well as building wider and more self-supporting relationships.
It further outlines that Sweden’s development cooperation with Zambia will be based on and characterised by a rights and poor people’s perspective on development which means that human rights and democracy are to be considered as fundamental to development.
The cooperation will contribute to improving health for people living in poverty, especially women, young people and children as well as strengthen the healthcare system’s capacity, especially to provide primary care for poor and vulnerable people.
The Development Cooperation will target to help people living in poverty gain increased access to renewable and sustainable energy, as well as support sustainable natural resource management, contribute to strengthened resilience and adaptation to climate change, crises and disasters.
It has been observed in the strategy that Zambia’s domestic market needs to be strengthened and opportunities for trade, including regional, taken advantage of. Sweden should, therefore, support activities that promote sustainable processing and utilisation of natural resources, better conditions for sustainable development production, free and fair trade, strengthened and sustainable value chains as well as access to financial services and technology for small scale farmers, entrepreneurs and companies.
Sweden will contribute to cooperation with the private sector to mobilise capital and investment aimed at increasing the rate of rural electrification. Furthermore, Swedish support could help to mobilise investments in renewable energy generation, power grid, more efficient energy use and reforms of the energy sector.
Meanwhile, Zambia has welcomed the new development cooperation strategy particularly that it increased the scope for Sweden’s commitment in working with Zambia.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Sweden, Her Excellency Ms. Rose Salukatula has said that the continued cooperation between the two countries which can be traced back to the early 1960s, and now Sweden’s adoption of the new strategy, confirm the continued warm relations.
Ms. Salukatula noted that the new development cooperation was commendable as most of the areas covered in the strategy were in line with Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan which was the country’s roadmap to achieving sustainable economic development.
She said being among the pioneers of democracy in Africa, Zambia was happy that Sweden has seen it worthwhile to provide support in this area as this will help the country maintain and be able to continue providing an ideal environment for democracy to flourish.
“Zambia’s democracy has achieved a lot of positives such as enhancing free speech, among other things. As government, we would like to see to it that the good things are maintained and also that we continue doing more to improve in areas that may need attention. So, Sweden’s commitment to helping in this regard is very welcome,” Ms. Salukatula said.
The envoy pointed out that Government realised that corruption and deficiencies in accountability in the public systems affected the poor most and that Sweden’s support would go a long way in assisting to root out the vice for which Government has adopted a zero tolerance position.
She said Sweden’s desire to promote gender equality was in line with President Edgar Lungu and his Government’s commitment to empowering women with decision making roles so that they could effectively contribute to the development of the country.
The ambassador noted that President Lungu has done a lot in promoting gender equality by appointing more women to decision-making positions in Government ministries, departments and institutions, as well as passing laws and regulations that allow women to be active participants in different sectors.
“Environmental and climate issues are also cardinal to us as a country as unsustainable use of natural resources hinder development particularly for our people in rural areas. Support to this area will help the country and rural communities in particular, to meaningfully engage in agriculture, which is one of Zambia’s focus economic sectors today.
Ms. Salukatula further hailed the strategy for aiming to establish linkages with the private sector to mobilise capital and investment in order to increase the rate of rural electrification.
“Zambia’s intention is to increase the current electricity penetration in rural areas from four per cent to 17 per cent in the next five years and achieve our vision of 51 per cent electrification rate by 2030. And the plan is to involve other energy sources, such as wind, solar, coal and geo-thermal; apart from our traditional hydro-power. It’s this kind of support as what Sweden is giving that will help us achieve our vision,” she said.
The ambassador said capital mobilisation was a huge hindrance, particularly for the private sector, to meaningfully get involved in the country’s economic activities.