The Minister of National Development Planning Honourable Alexander Chiteme has called on African leaders, multi-lateral development finance institutions and other key development partners to increase their support to national development banks in the continent to enable the banks effectively contribute to the speedy implementation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mr. Chiteme was speaking when he delivered a keynote address themed: “the unique and important role of national development banks in Africa” at the conference organised by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Centre for Africa conference on ‘SDGs Implementation in Africa – Reflections on a Three-Year Journey’ taking place in Kigali, Rwanda.
“National development banks are hugely important to sustainable development in Africa. They must now receive the attention they deserve from all stakeholders including regulators, larger multi-lateral development finance institutions and other key development partners in order to enable them to realise their full potential,” said Mr. Chiteme at the continental meeting that attracted government officials, development partners, private sector and civil society leaders. The Conference will serve as a prelude to the 7th Board Meeting of SDGs Centre for Africa on Friday when Heads of State and Government are expected to deliberate on the SDGs implementation.
Mr. Chiteme expressed Zambia’s support to the SDG Centre for Africa’s continent-wide programme to support the reform of national development banks for the achievement of the SDGs. “I am in full agreement with the objective of this initiative: national development banks do, in fact, have a very important and necessary role in financing sustainable development across Africa,” he said. “The development bank of Zambia and the SDG Center will be entering into a Memorandum of Understanding through which they will work together to strengthen the capacity of the Development Bank of Zambia to identify, develop and finance SDGs-related Projects in Zambia.”
He observed that though development banks play a key role in national development, there were still areas where improvements needed to be made to effectively contribute to Zambia’s sustainable development.
“We must improve the risk profile of the bank’s financing so that there is increased investment in key development sectors, such infrastructure, energy, industrialization, agricultural and related sectors. We must determine different and better options for fundraising and long-term capitalization which will enable the bank to access affordable sources of funding to finance projects contained in national development plans and the SDGs,” Mr. Chiteme said.
He told the delegates that Zambia’s Seventh National Development Planning (7NDP) has successfully integrated 86 percent of the SDGs targets and indicators, with the help of the United Nations Development Programme.
The Minister said Zambia had recorded strong economic growth over the last 15 years despite some deceleration of growth in 2015 and 2016, growth was on the recovery and was expected to reach satisfactory levels in the medium-term.
“The Minister observed that Zambia, like most African countries had a challenge in translating economic growth into improvements in the livelihoods of the citizens. Poverty remains our greatest challenge,” said Mr. Chiteme. “Our growth has not resulted in the requisite job creation to significantly reduce the poverty levels. We face an unemployment rate in the double digits, with nearly one in four youth unemployed. We must do much more if we are to lift all people out of poverty and achieve the SDGs by 2030.”
Zambia will host the SDGs Centre for Southern African region.