Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme has called on development partners to continue complementary efforts of Least Developed Countries in their determination to come out of poverty.
The Minister made a clarion call in a statement read on his behalf by Ministry of National Development Planning Permanent Secretary (Development Planning and Administration) Chola Chabala at the annual ministerial meeting of LDCs at United Nations Headquarters.
Mr. Chiteme said Zambia has always taken into consideration the goals and targets of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries into the National Development Plans.
He said the desired development priorities in the pillars of the current National Development Plan resonate with the focus areas of the Istanbul Programme of Action.
“We have recorded notable progress towards the goals and targets of the Istanbul Programme of Action.
In the area of productive capacity, the following are areas of notable milestones achieved: Our national electricity generation capacity increased from 1,767 Megawatts in 2011 to 2,974.7 Megawatts in 2018 representing a growth of 68 percent while our electricity generation mix diversified from 99 percent hydropower in 2011 to 80.6 percent in 2019; Construction of additional mobile communication towers, coupled with supportive telecommunication sector regulation contributed to raising the mobile subscriber base by 89 percent from 8.16 million in 2011 to 15.5 million in 2018. This has reduced the digital divide between the rural and urban population,” Mr. Chiteme said.
He said owing to increased investment in ICT, financial inclusion particularly for previously un served areas improved as demonstrated by the volume of mobile money transactions, that increased from 17.4 million in 2012 to 303.9 million transactions in 2018, representing an increase of 1,643 percent; and in the area of trade policy, the Zambia maintains a liberal regime and has made progress in deepening its market openness through its trade arrangements at regional level.
The Minister informed fellow ministers from the 47-member LDC Grouping that Under-5 mortality rate improved from 75 deaths per 1,000 births for the period 2013-2014 to 61 deaths per 1,000 in 2018.
He added that child mortality improved from 31 deaths per 1,000 births during the period 2013-2014 to 19 deaths per 1,000 in 2018.
Mr. Chiteme said maternal mortality has also recorded significant improvement with a reduction from 398 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013-2014 to 278 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2018.
“In terms of Gender Parity there was a reduction in the disparities in education between the boys and girls from 2.3 percent to 1.5 percent at primary school level and 1.1 percent to 1.0 percent at secondary school level from 2010 to 2017,” he said. “For all the progress recorded, Government recognises and appreciates the support rendered by the different partners supporting implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action.”
He said Zambia’s journey towards attaining the Istanbul Programme of Action targets has had challenges.
Mr Chiteme said advancing the level of development to meet the aspirations of Istanbul Programme of Action is a costly undertaking.
“Among the challenges encountered are the following: The levels of Net Oversees Development Assistance (ODA) have declined. In the case of Zambia, ODA as a percentage of Gross National Income declined from 73.3 percent in 2010 to 60.7 percent in 2018, when it should have been increasing; Efforts to generate revenues have been hampered by illicit financial flows and, this compromises the potential of LDCs to adequately finance their development needs,” the Minister said. “Commodity dependent countries like Zambia remain susceptible to shocks resulting from changes in commodity prices, which in turn compromise their national earnings to finance development; and Climatic events have negatively affected growth prospects, given its negative impact negatively on food and energy.”
He said the successful implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action requires political will by all partners and that Zambia remains resolute in pursuing the attainment of its goals and targets.
“Our political will is demonstrated in our national policy and planning frameworks. I call all partners to continually stand with LDCs and complement our efforts towards realisation of this and subsequent Programmes of Action,” said Hon. Chiteme.
The Istanbul Programme of Action charts out the international community’s vision and strategy for the sustainable development of LDCs for the decade – 2011 to 2020 – with a strong focus on developing their productive capacities.
The Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries adopted the decade-long Programme of Action in 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey.
This is according to a statement issued to the media by Chibaula Silwamba, the Ministry of National Development Planning Spokesperson.