The Centre for Trade Policy and Development says high poverty and inequality levels have remained a huge challenge for Zambia.
Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo says although Development Plans, Policy Documents and Strategy papers have been crafted one after another to give direction on how to tackle this problem, Zambia’s per capita incomes according to statistics has improved considerably, moving from US$925 in 1996 to $1,619 in 2015.
Mr Mwaipopo said additionally, in 2011 Zambia returned to a lower middle-income status and between 2004
and 2014, impressive economic growth was recorded which averaged 7.6 percent, while Sub Saharan Africa was averaging at 5.8 percent.
He said unfortunately, these impressive growth rates recorded over the years have not translated into meaningful improvements on the living conditions of majority Zambians as they are still
entrenched in poverty and inequality.
Mr Mwaipopo said worse now that economic growth has reduced to a record low.
He said currently Zambia’s prevalence Poverty rate is at 54.4 percent according to estimates from the Seventh National Development Plan and the Living Conditions and Monitoring Survey.
Mr Mwaipopo said this essentially means that over half of Zambia’s estimated 17 million populations are leaving in poverty.
“The widening inequality levels which is one of the highest rates in the world at 0.69 percent is also a matter of concern to the Centre. What these statistics reveal is that economic growth recorded in the past years in Zambia coupled with well-crafted policies and poverty reduction strategies have not translated into significant poverty reduction, especially in rural areas”, he added.
Mr Mwaipopo added that the pattern of economic growth in Zambia tends to be highly unequal and has not increased the incomes of the poor rapidly enough to lift them out of the scourge due to economic growth being concentrated in capital-intensive industries such as construction, mining and transport.
He has since implored the Zambian
government to enhance support towards development of the Multi-facility Economic Zones, as this will help push the local industrialization agenda.
Mr Mwaipopo said recent assessment they conducted revealed a number of challenges affecting growth of the Zones.
He has further proposed that government invest more money in the agricultural sector to boost the sectors productivity especially for small scale farmers.
Mr Mwaipopo said government must also ensure Investment in mechanisation of agriculture and promotion of value addition.
He said Government should further consider investment in irrigation agriculture to ensure all year-round production.
Mr Mwaipopo said CTPD believes that Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining provides yet another opportunity for
Zambia to maximise its benefits from mining.
He said the sector needs a lot of support in terms of infrastructure and financial capital in order to run effectively and create a lot of jobs for Zambian
youth which the country will accrue in the long term.
Mr Mwaipopo said government should enhance the development of the tourism sector in Zambia which has not been utilised in a manner that ensures it contributes to the country’s economic development.