Thursday, July 25, 2024

The Problem of Africa and Zambia


By Professor Kavwanga Yambayamba

The problem of Zambia and Africa is not:

  • Hunger,
  • Poverty,
  • High food prices,
  • High fuel prices,
  • Load shedding,
  • Theft or Corruption,
  • Unemployment,
  • Bad leadership,
  • Lack of financial and other resources, or indeed
  • Any other adverse situation being experienced.

These are merely symptoms of an underlying fundamental problem. There is one and only one problem. The fundamental problem of Zambia and Africa is inadequate human capacity – human beings who are competent; human beings who have the knowledge, the skill and positive attitude or growth mindsets; human beings who are critical thinkers; human beings who can create and innovate; human beings who see a broader picture and welcome new ideas; human beings who are resilient, have the courage, do not give up, and can solve problems from different perspectives; human beings who embrace challenges and turn possibilities into realities… the inadequacy arising from inadequate investment in the entire human capital development value chain – the most important being the formative years between zero and five years, generally referred to as the programming phase, when the cognitive function is open to receive all the great ideas for use in the future.

Unless Zambia (or Africa in general) heavily invests in human capital development and in particular the first five years of human life, the symptoms will continue and will get worse. The current prevailing situation in Zambia and Africa has been created over the past several decades, and each one of us (individually and severally), knowingly or unknowingly, has played a part in this unfortunate situation. But the current government has a great opportunity to plant a new seed, a seed whose fruits they may never grow to see, but will be remembered forever by future generations. Invest in human capital development, and the rest will fall in place.

The author is a Fellow of the Zambia Academy of Sciences and also Vice Chancellor of the Zambian Open University.


  1. ………

    I belive this to be fact, however………

    I would add all primary school years to the critical midset developmental years for africa………

    How can a peoples develop who have no eqivalent of the word ‘maintenance ‘ in their mother toungues ???

    Africans need to be taught at primary school that everything……..buildings , marchinary
    , enviroment, requires a cycle of maintenance……..

    That is why everything breakes down in africa………from sewer systems to roads to buildings……..we never grew up knowing the word maintenance

  2. Much as I agree with the Author, I must add that Zambia/Africa does produce on a small scale, human capital that can transform the Continent. But you must realize that that human capital costs money. Why should Clive Chirwa work for Zambia Railways and get paid K50,000 per month when he can earn $10,000 per month in UK? The larger problem is brain-drain. Plug the drain and you’ll have the human capital you want.

  3. Indecisive leadership. Can you imagine the USA has the cheek to instruct a sovereign state the DRC on who to sell their own mines to who not to sell to.

  4. The start was very poor. France ordered all its former colonies to deposit their gold into the Bank of France. And with audacity one western country has ordered gecamin not to give its mines to the Chinese.
    And we have not invested in research and development but instead we feel proud when some embassy presents us with some IT equipment… and we even hold a party.

  5. I would argue that the biggest problem is a moral one.
    Manifested in dishonesty, greed, laziness, corruption. If these things were addressed, everything else is of secondary importance. Just look at the leaders in Zambia and you will see that these vices are what defines them.

  6. Great articulation Professor and my few addition, you are the leaders our great nation and continent has been waiting for and such must become our conversation and depart from the toxic chats about PF and UPND but go into finding solutions to overcome our challenges as a people. Congratulations and well done

  7. The only problem to Zambia & Africa as a whole is our political leaders who are weak, the can never stand up to the western powers. Our leaders are all chickens who think they cannot make it without the west. They are all boot-lickers & western pleasers. You can come up with good articles & english but the truth is what i am saying period

    • But can stand up against their own people. Just look the network fiasco since Monday simply because someone wants to stand again….we are all made to lose business.

  8. Africans are so colonised in their soul such that they kill their own who stands up against the west. So weak that the enemy manipulates them with ease… the worst enemy to an African child is the African leaders

  9. Africa has the most educated people academically but see how dirty, poor infrastructure, people are hungry & yet you see the so called educated fat cats boast of their degrees they got at some universities overseas with nothing to show for it. How ca a president with a degree in economics fail to run a proper profitable economy .. how? …..The West are in control… wisdom come only from God not from university lecture rooms

  10. Thank you Prof for this brilliant excerpt. At any rate, Africa and Zambia in particular has human beings who are competent; human beings who have the knowledge, the skill and positive attitude or growth mindsets; human beings who are critical thinkers; human beings who can create and innovate; human beings who see a broader picture and welcome new ideas; human beings who are resilient, have the courage, do not give up, and can solve problems from different perspectives; human beings who embrace challenges and turn possibilities into realities, yet their efforts are thwarted by the political leaders. If only these local political leaders respect humanity everything will unfold in our beautiful Africa and Zambia.

  11. I strongly share similar views with this Professor. Failure to serve our beloved Zambia by practically applying that which we claim to know will continue to increase our reliance on outside assistance. Zambia has all the resource it needs to be better.

  12. For example Mr Hakainde Hichilema has spent three years trying to dismantle the PF and leaving the work on the economy to the IMF and others. Instead of asking the former party on why things didn’t work he spends night and day on how to fix his perceived enemies including a small fly like JJ Banda.

  13. Mr. Fixer is busy fixing his opponents NOT the economy…. so scared of ECL that they have to make sure he does not stand again for presidency. Have heard some the so called educate elite with their Zambian heavy accent speaking against ECL candidature… cowards.. evil pipo who have no love for the poor but their own pockets. These guys hate ECL to the core, it is like ECL has never done anything good

  14. The problem might be academics who can’t be bothered to write more than a couple of paragraphs. Then blaming children. Atase

  15. The biggest problem is that we seek solutions to our problems not within ourselves but elsewhere. Colossal sums of money have been spent on capacity building but with very poor results. We’re just good at fixing each other.

  16. Prof Yambayamba is spot on but there is another angle- the impact of malnutrition and its effects on children’s development and IQ. Some of our brothers and sisters who were affected by this condition during childhood years are now adults. I will leave it here.

    • I agree with you. Even if you aren’t labouring, as a baby, you are immediately enslaved to your mum. You can’t do anything except eat what you are offered, what you are not free to choose.
      You will only be free when you leave your parents house. But again you will find the government has made rules which you are enslaved to. You cant drink alcohol or drive until you are 18, you cant talk on your cellphone and drive, you cant tell the president that he is stupid. Born free yakuti?

    • You can choose not to eat if you want:
      ABC News – Breaking News,
      Scientists Baffled by Prahlad Jani, Man Who Doesn’t Eat or Drink

  17. How does Africa fare when compared to the Asian and Latin American countries? Why is Haiti, the blackest county in the Western hemisphere a basket case? Perhaps Prof Dr Yambayamva could interrogate further

    • @Mulikita Haiti was formed after a 13 year-long war ending with slaves freeing themselves in 1804. If you want to see how cruel and unfair Western capitalism is you need to read the Haiti story. Haiti’s colonisers, the French reacted by suing Haiti for depriving the masters of earnings from slavery! Yes fellow Western World colonisers endorsed the judgement
      A hefty fee of $150 million was imposed and Haiti is still paying that. As an African you are bound to ask why should you pay your slavemaster because you have justifiedly freed yourself from him? But just go and ask that question to Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Niger. They are in a similar arrangement with France

  18. I agree with you Professor. Indeed human capacity in all its Ramifications is Inadequate. The problem is further compounded by our egos. We see and realize the truth but do not wish to acknowledge it. Worse we don’t plan for periods beyond our lives compared to our counterparts. Plan to put in place an action that will outlive us. In short let us work towards ensuring the first 5 years are solid for our children the rest will follow suit.

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