The sub-sector has over the recent years experienced development making Zambia one of the leading countries in fish farming in the region.  Despite these developments, the sub-sector has still remained in its infancy stage if compared to other sub-sectors in the agricultural sector such as the crop and livestock sub-sectors. The following appear to be some of the factors constraining the sector:

  • To begin with, the aquaculture sub-sector is guided by inadequate policy framework, although Government has developed an aquaculture strategic plan, this plan has not been fully implemented to facilitate for the management of the sector which could enhance fish production.  It is therefore required that Government works with relevant stakeholders to implement best aquaculture management practices which will further develop the sub-sector.  With the introduction of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, there exists an opportunity for improved policy implementation and improved support.
  • Secondly, there have been low levels of investment in the aquaculture sub-sector when compared to other sectors in the economy. However, there is need for a deliberate paradigm shift that would change the development of the sector through research and extension services for meaningful aquaculture development to be actualized spearheaded by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
  • Lastly, there is fragmented coordination amongst stakeholders leading to delays in the implementation of aquaculture strategies, interventions, and policies. It is therefore important for the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries to work together with different stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of initiatives that will increase aquaculture production and productivity.

 

BEST PRACTICE IN AQUACULTURE IN AFRICA

There are a number of countries Zambia can learn from best practice for a successful aquaculture sector such as Egypt. The Egyptian aquaculture sub-sector is currently number ten in the world in terms of fish production and the largest in Africa.  This status has been due to a number of interventions that the Egyptian government has implemented in the last four decades targeted on reducing fish imports due to a reduction in capture fisheries and the realization of the economic opportunities of aquaculture.  In 2010 the Egyptian government designed and implemented a National Aquaculture 2030 Strategy, this strategy focused on the development of freshwater aquaculture with an emphasis on cage fish farming and desert fish farming.

 

In order to achieve the 2030 strategy, the Egyptian government implemented a wide range of policy interventions such as;

  • Efficient use of fresh water for fish production through the recirculation aquaculture method of rearing fish, rather than using open ponds.  The choice of this type of fish farming was considered the best for increased productivity because it is done all year round, low water requirement and little space.
  • Financing for aquaculture- the government has made strides in financing aquaculture, although challenges still exist for small-holder farmers to access finance from formal financial institutions when compared to informal credit providers.
  • The Government has created an environment where it has licensed the establishment of fish feed mills within the country for feed production.

From the Egyptian case, Zambia can adopt the policy implementation of an aquaculture strategy to guide the sub-sector development and the use of the recirculation aquaculture system which will ensure whole year-round fish production which will cushion the gap in supply caused by the fish ban.

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The fisheries sub-sector in Zambia plays a significant role in the economy as it offers an opportunity for improved nutrition, income generation, and job creation, resulting in general wealth creation and food security at household and national level.  At national level, the fisheries sub-sector contributes approximately 3.2% to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Second Agricultural Policy, 2016). Given the abundant water resources that Zambia has, the fisheries sub-sector has been identified as one of the avenues for agriculture and general economic diversification through enhanced and efficient capture fisheries and fish farming. At household level, the fisheries sub-sector is identified as one of the sectors that can provide additional protein. In addition to other sources such as livestock and crops, fish accounts for about 40% of protein intake in rural areas. This sector is key in the efforts towards scaling up nutrition levels, food security, and income generation.  At household level, the fisheries sector contributes to household income through fishing activities as the main economic venture in some parts of the country.

In simple terms, aquaculture is defined as farming and husbandry of aquatic organisms under controlled or semi-controlled conditions. This term refers to the cultivation of both marine and freshwater species which range from land-based cultivation and open water production in cages.  In Zambia fish production through aquaculture is carried out both on land in ponds and in open waters by putting cages in rivers.

The fisheries sector has the potential to produce 150,000 metric tonnes of fish annually but it currently produces about 70,000 tonnes of which 87% of the production comes from capture. Fisheries (Second Agricultural Policy, 2016).   The current fish production in the country has failed to meet the country’s domestic demand for fish, this has led the country to become a net importer of fish.  In 2015 Zambia’s fish imports volume was 77,199 metric tonnes which increased to 126,345 metric tonnes in 2016. (Department of Fisheries, 2017). In terms of net worth of the fish that the country imports, the Seventh National Development plan indicates that in 2011, fish imports were valued at US$ 32,118,412 which increased by 253% to US$113,434,446 in 2015 while the value of fish exports decreased from US$1,081,964 to US$503,649 between 2011 and 2015 (Ministry of National Development Planning, 2017). This increase in fish imports and increase in demand has necessitated the development of fish farming through aquaculture development and promotion. Government, with the help of various cooperating partners such as World fish, Peace Corps, and Caritas Zambia has in the recent years facilitated the development of aquaculture development to drive the agenda of improving nutrition and food security.

Aquaculture is, evidently, one of the avenues which the Government can capitalise on in view of diversifying the Zambian economy from copper to other sectors. The economic benefits that could be accrued from aquaculture development and advancement are further necessitated by the increase in the demand for fish at regional and national level. At its current annual production, the fisheries sector in Zambia cannot meet the required demand for fish.  Aquaculture development and advancement presents a long-term solution for the increased demand for fish. The need for reduced fish imports in the country creates a favourable window of opportunity for appropriate investment into aquaculture technology in order to enhance production and productivity of fish through aquaculture both at commercial and smallholder production.

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Zambia must prepare for the various potential challenges that she may face. In order to prepare for the potential increase of migration, various policies may be developed. These policies must be set up in such a way that Zambian citizens are protected from loss of employment; and that immigration of skilled labour is encouraged to ensure that the benefits of these skills are harnessed. Skilled labor allows the country to be efficient in its production and also its ability to develop advanced technological systems and equipment within the country. Zambia also needs to focus on strengthening the facilitation of movement of capital.

As the region becomes a large single market, competition is likely to increase for Zambian producers in particular. It is essential for Zambian producers and businesses to be able to survive in this very competitive market. Research on the potential demands of products that Zambia may have comparative advantage in should be carried out to ensure necessary targeting is done. This will give Zambia an advantage as it services varying customers in different countries. Cost-benefit analysis of the best means of business must be undertaken to ensure efficiency and to benefit from economies of scale. Zambia must also invest in technology and equipment which improve productivity.

Zambia can also mobilize domestic resources in such a way that it can survive the potential short term losses that come with developing the CFTA. In this way, the country may not incur a lot of costs despite the reduction in tariff revenue. The removal of trade barriers is likely to bring about foreign direct investment and more multinational companies that need to be regulated. The issue of cross-border tax avoidance may arise as a result of this. Zambia may avoid this by endorsing a global common reporting standard for Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) which allows easier access to financial information to the residence country.

Support must be provided for small scale producers to avoid crowding out by a market run by the private sector. Small scale producers may adapt to the post-CFTA market through enhanced technical, managerial and financial skills and meet industry standards. The Government may assist in the investment of these attributes.

Zambia’s priorities in its trading arrangements are currently focused on interventions that promote value addition, diversification and job and wealth creation. In order to achieve this Zambia has recently developed an export strategy that is focused on ensuring beneficiation for the domestic industry and manufacturing products that will be able to meet the demands of the CFTA countries.

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Globally, countries are concluding Mega-Regional Trade Agreements (MRTAs), thus reshaping and changing the global trading landscape in the process. The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will allow Africa to strengthen its position vis-à-vis the rest of the world. If the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is successfully implemented, there are opportunities to address regional infrastructure challenges and link Zambia to international markets.  Free movement of capital provides opportunities for both individuals and companies to benefit. It enables integrated, open, competitive and efficient African financial markets and services. For companies, there may be opportunities to benefit from higher investment returns from other African countries. Additionally, low tariffs allow consumers to have access to cheaper products and producers to better enter other African markets. Firms will have access to cheaper raw materials and intermediate goods from other African countries which will reduce their cost of production.

In order to benefit from the integration of markets, African economies must undergo a transition that involves the reallocation of economic resources to areas where their use is effective. This may result in short-run adjustment costs. After trade liberalization countries may experience falling trade revenue shrinkage of certain sectors and temporary unemployment as resources are shifted during this period. Moreover, insufficient financial and institutional capacity of countries may have adverse effects on labour force and small enterprises. Hence, the benefits of free trade area may not be shared equally. For many developing countries a lack of labor mobility between sectors is a key challenge. Support programmes, such as aid for trade and infrastructure investments, could be considered to help the most affected countries, in particular least-developed, landlocked and small economies.

Another challenge to be more likely faced by African countries could be the cost of transporting goods within the continent. African countries can solve this problem by becoming better connected through treaties, road networks as well as railway networks.

The Zambian Government is heading in the right direction as it has embarked on an ambitious programme of infrastructure development.

A free trade area must have Rules of Origin (RoO), that is, criteria for sorting out which products are actually produced within the region and should, therefore, be given FTA treatment such as not paying customs duties. Creation of AfCFTA is likely to encounter some challenges regarding negotiations on Rules of Origin. Much as the current African Regional Economic Communities (REC) have been in existence for some time, bottlenecks have been encountered regarding Rules of Origin. Some RECS are still reviewing Rules of Origin on some commodities. There are dissimilarities between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Rules of Origin (RoO) – Africa’s case is not unique though as there is an absence of an agreed global set of rules (or parameters) guiding the design of rules of origin. The design of rules of origin depends on trade negotiations and often times influenced by certain political and economic factors.

Africa should refrain from adopting EU or US approaches to Rules of Origin (RoO). The simpler and less restrictive the better. It is feasible to have AfCFTA rules of origin if the negotiations take the approach of across-the-board thresholds or general rules for conferring origin. In COMESA for instance, any good can qualify for FTA treatment if the value of inputs from within the region accounts for 35 percent of total value of the good; or the value of inputs from outside the region does not exceed 60 percent of the total value of the good .

However, if the Rules of Origin negotiations take the approach of producing product-specific or list rules, that is, specifying a working and processing required for every single product for it to qualify for FTA treatment; it will definitely be impossible to have Rules of Origin for the AfCFTA in good time.

Zambia has become prone to global and regional risks which have the potential to negatively impact the country’s socio-economic development. The greater the level of integration or interdependence among countries, the greater the potential for a number of risks, such as political turmoil, migration, trade imbalances, illicit trade, infectious diseases and the effects of climate change.  One of the potential challenges from free movement of people may include the increase of human trafficking and smuggling of illegal products. External shocks arising from financial integration and fluctuating commodity prices have been adversely affecting Zambia’s growth parameters. Other risks of concern include terrorism, cyber-crime, and digital misinformation. Arising from this, Zambia faces different effects brought about by regional and global integration. Going forward, the country has to harness the positives of global and regional integration as well as manage the potential risks.

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According to UNCTAD, a UN body focusing on trade; in 2010 intra-African trade only made up 10.2 percent of Africa’s total trade. Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) aims to remove trade barriers in order to improve intra-African trade. To achieve this, the CFTA draft agreement commits countries to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods with 10 percent of “sensitive items” to be phased in later. The agreement also liberalises services and aims to eliminate non-tariff barriers which hamper intra-African trade. According to a paper by Brenton, nontrade barriers limit access to necessary inputs; for instance, limited access to inputs such as seeds and fertilisers in the agricultural sector. Non-tariff barriers such as lack of competition and unfavourable regulations may hinder access to inputs of production. Clear regulatory systems of inputs and outputs ensures reliable information about the quality of goods and services available.

Though there may be an initial loss of revenue income, the long-term welfare gain is significantly larger. A research paper by UNCTAD suggests that elimination of all tariffs between African countries would take an annual US$4.1bn out of the trading states’ coffers, but would create an overall annual welfare gain of US$16.1bn in the long run. Short term integration and adjustment costs will be incurred in establishing the CFTA. These short term costs include loss in trade tariff revenue, local SME’s vanishing in front of stronger competition, adjusting unemployment, required investment in infrastructure, political and regulatory reforms. Majority of the welfare benefits to be gained from further integration will only materialise in the long run. These include lower import prices, efficient production, output increase, higher value-added jobs and exports, and technological specialization.

With the CFTA in place, the continent can benefit from a single market for goods and services, having free movement of people and investments; which therefore paves the way for accelerating the establishment of the continental customs union and the African customs union. This in turn would bring about the spillover effects from countries that may develop new technologies and skills in response to the single continental market demands. The removal of barriers amongst the countries allows free flow of experts and skills.

The establishment of CFTA could also resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships. Countries belonging to many Regional Economic Communities (RECs) face multiple financial obligations. Such countries must also cope with attending various meetings, policy decisions, instruments, procedures, and schedules. The customs officials of such member countries have to cope with varying tariff reduction rates, RoO, trade documentation, and statistical nomenclatures. These varying considerations may undermine the effectiveness of customs officials’ overall performance. The overlaps and multiple memberships may also affect the commitment of member countries and consequently the success of any Regional Trade Agreement (RTA). The CFTA can correct this by encompassing the other REIs and progressively harmonising and integrating their activities, in a similar fashion as ECOWAS playing an umbrella role for the sub-REIs in Western Africa.

Furthermore, Countries will benefit from enhanced competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level. When a country has competitive companies within its sectors, the country itself is more likely to have a competitive advantage as a nation competing in a large single market.

African industrial products may have increased competitiveness through harnessing the economies of scale of a continental-wide market. Small African Countries, having access to this large market, will no longer be restricted to producing their traditional products. Better policies and human resources could make them the focus of new manufacturing operations that serve larger markets. Additionally, in the long run, increased competition due to trade liberalizations provides incentives for domestic firms to operate more efficiently. As firms are faced with competitive pressures, they are forced to use their resources efficiently, implement new technologies and innovate in order to survive under the new conditions.

The CFTA may result in increased food security through reduction to barriers on trade in agricultural products. Export restrictions, in particular, decrease food security as farmers may not be able to secure higher prices in neighbouring markets. This may provide incentives for them to shift to producing other crops or reduce output, creating losses to the economy as a whole. This suggests that when a country lifts these restrictions, as would be the case with the CFTA; countries can benefit from the easy access of inputs of agricultural products. This, in turn, contributes to increased food security.

The CFTA may result in increased rate of diversification and transformation of Africa’s economy and the continent’s ability to supply its import needs from its own resources. As the continent operates as a single market, it can obtain import needs from its own resources. Moreover, as the continent develops its infrastructure to support the single market, employment can be provided for its people and development of engineering services can be fostered. Moving away from dependence on raw materials; it also allows the continent’s economies to diversify. The associated technological development, combined with appropriate industrial policies, will lead to the creation of new industries.

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Generally, most countries in Africa charge tariffs that are much lower than the actual cost of generating, distributing and retailing electricity. The difference between the tariffs most customers pay and the actual cost of electricity is subsidised by Governments. For this reason, in 2008 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers of Energy were prompted to approve migration of unsustainable electricity tariffs towards cost reflectivity within five years and set a deadline of 31st December 2013. However, by 2015 only Namibia and Tanzania in the 15-country regional bloc had successfully achieved cost-reflectivity, despite an earlier commitment by all member states to meet the objective by 2013.  Consequently, (SADC) energy ministers further extended the deadline to 2019 by which member countries were required to produce road-maps for transitioning their electricity supply industries towards cost-reflective tariffs by 2019 in an effort to improve the sustainability of the sector and create the basis for greater investment in new generation capacity by state utilities and Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Cost-reflective tariff designs send price signals to various stakeholders that lead to better decisions with respect to consumption, production and the expansion of networks.

To this effect, and in accordance with the Electricity Act Chapter 433 of the Laws of Zambia, ZESCO on 22nd March 2019 issued notices to its consumers of its intention to adjust electricity tariffs and connection fees by a weighted average rate of 113 percent and 213 percent respectively. However, on 3rd May 2019, a pronouncement was made that Government deferred ZESCO’s application after consultations with various stakeholders.

The question that begs answers is whether ZESCO’s proposed tariff adjustment over the years is justified?

 

First Cost of Service Study

The first Cost of Service Study (CoSS) was conducted in 2006 with the aim of determining the cost incurred by the country’s vertically integrated electricity utility company called ZESCO in generating, transmitting, distributing and supplying power to various categories of consumers.  The key findings of the study indicated that the electricity tariffs in Zambia were not cost-reflective. The findings further recommended an average increase of tariffs by 45.4 percent in the 2007/2008 financial year. With such a rise the residential customers would have carried the highest increase of the tariff at 147.6 percent, followed by large power customers at 46.3 percent while commercial and services customers increase would have been 2.4 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.  The rationale after reaching cost reflective tariffs has always been that tariffs would be adjusted annually to account for changes in economic fundamentals such as inflation and exchange rate volatiles as the case is with petroleum pricing mechanism in Zambia. In the Petroleum sector, ERB reviews the retail prices of petroleum products every six weeks and each period is supposed to coincide with a new cargo of crude oil procured. As a rule, the ERB only adjusts the price if the cost margins escalate beyond 2.5 percent threshold.  Figure 1 on the right indicates that ZESCO had not made applications to vary its tariffs in some years even when economic fundamentals had arguably significantly changed in the said years. ZESCO has however made several tariff applications since the 2006 Cost of Service Study resulting in the ERB approving average tariff increases of 27 percent, 35 percent, 26 percent,16 percent, 75 percent in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2017 respectively.  The latest application to increase tariffs was made in March 2019.

 

Second Cost of Service Study

It must be noted that the 2006 study focused primarily on ZESCO which was at that time the producer and supplier of about 96% of the electricity consumed in the country. Significant changes have since taken place in the Electricity Sector in Zambia. There have been new entrants into the sector, such as Independent Power Producers (IPPs), who have invested in power generation with associated higher generation costs. By 2015 the average tariff ZESCO was paying to purchase power from IPPs ranged from USc 7/kWh to USc 13.23/kWh but the average end user tariff charged by ZESCO was USc 6/kWh7. There has also been a growing emphasis on developing the renewable energy resources of the country as stated in the Seventh National Development Plan. However, current electricity prices are well below both economic and financial costs.  To this effect in 2017 ERB embarked the second Cost of Service Study (CoSS) with funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB). One of the key tasks of the study was to determine the appropriate structure and level of tariffs for each consumer category.

A Cost of Service Study was important to ensure that ZESCO’s inefficiencies were not passed on to consumers.  A more reason why the other key deliverable task of Cost of Service Study focused on a detailed review of ZESCO’s cost structure by benchmarking with cost structure of similar efficient utilities with similar technical structure8. The study was going to be the basis on which to determine future tariffs adjustments for categories of consumers. However, the cost of service study was suspended midway by the consultant and by the first quarter of 2019, ERB was still evaluating bids for a new consultant to undertake the Cost of Service study.

Without a CoSS, therefore, it implies that the 2019 proposed tariff hikes by ZESCO with a weighted average of 113 percent may suggest inaccuracies in arriving at the proposed new pricing.   For any successful implementation of tariff hike that is widely acceptable by all stakeholders, the need for an independent Cost of Service study cannot be overemphasized. Availing of all microdata on cost and operations by utilities to all stakeholders reduces resistance to tariff hikes and helps Government to make the right decisions.  Tariff designs should be characterized by transparency, predictability, efficiency, fairness, simplicity, and lack of controversy.

 

Challenges in the Implementation of Cost Reflective Tariffs

 

Decreased Economic Activities

The implementation of cost reflective tariffs will affect different consumer categories differently. The increase in tariffs through the implementation of cost reflective tariffs may lead to decrease in electricity use, which may lead to decreased economic activities as electricity use plays a role in one of input factors. It is therefore imperative that the implementation of cost reflective tariffs is phased to minimize the shocks to the economy. The small enterprises are the most affected mainly due to their lack of resilience and limited capacity to invest in alternative energy sources.

Implementation of cost reflective tariffs is also hindered by the competing expectations between low income consumers afford-ability and utility companies’ desire to recover costs. Consumers expect to receive electricity at an affordable price, while utilities’ argument is that “to provide a good reliable electricity, supply tariffs must be matched with costs”. The rational approach, is for Government to implement gradual movement towards cost-reflective tariffs in order to minimize the impact on poor households.

 

Rural Zambian Population still has less than 5 percent Electricity Access

Cost reflective tariffs risk derailing the goal of achieving 100 percent access to especially for the poor mainly in rural areas where access of rural population has only ranged between 2-5 percent since 1990 as indicated in Figure 5 on the next page. National access to electricity averages at 27 percent with 62 percent of the urban and 3 percent of the rural population having access to power as of 201617.  ZESCO on 22nd March 2019 issued notices to its consumers of its intention to adjust electricity connection fees with a weighted average rate of 213%. If this proposal is approved by ERB, access to electricity would be made worse for the rural population. Rural connections are costly compared to connecting a poor household in an urban area. There seems to be an inverse relationship between providing services to all and afford-ability at least in the short term. One way of providing affordable services to the poor rural population could be through the provision of cross-subsidies given the constrained fiscal space.

 

Politics and Public Resistance

In 2015, ZESCO also applied to increase tariffs by an average of 187 percent which was granted by ERB but later on reversed by the Government after public dissatisfaction. The trend has been the same in African countries such as Ghana, Tanzania, and Nigeria with similar energy sectors structures.

 

Key Recommendations

  1. An industry-wide Cost of Service Study which was commissioned in 2017 but has since been suspended after the contract with the consultant was terminated due to poor performance. Without a CoSS, electricity tariff adjustment suspension by the Government is a welcome move and provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to resolve the concerns raised. However, Government through ERB needs to expedite the process of selecting a new consultant to embark on the cost of service as soon as possible.
  2. Government should ensure that capacity is built among the locals in carrying out CoSS so that subsequent Cost of Service studies are done by Zambians. Besides ERB staff, additional personnel from key relevant stakeholders should be recruited in the study technical team to work with the consultant.
  3. ZESCO needs to periodically publish its costs for public and stakeholder scrutiny to enhance appreciation of its cost structure and operations. ZESCO’s increased revenue translates into significant increase in generation, transmission and distribution expansions visible to all stakeholders.
  4. Government should continue exploring measures to restructure the vertically integrated ZESCO’s business model if the utility company is to be sustainable by possibly unbundling it into separate business units namely; generation, transmission and distribution.
  5. There is need to enhance planning, research and development (R&D) units at both Ministry of Energy and ZESCO to continue exploring least cost electricity expansion plans and integrated resource planning for the country.
  6. Government needs to consider that cross-subsidies for connection fees for low-income groups are borne by other customers (industrial or commercial customers) to ensure that access to electricity by the poor is guaranteed to minimize the economic shocks of cost-reflective tariffs. Government should also consider implementation of cost reflective tariffs in a phased manner.
  7. Government must formulate a “renewable energy policy” to provide for strategies and targets that would develop the renewable energy sub sector and implementation of Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (REFIT). REFIT refers to schemes designed to provide certainty to renewable electricity generators by providing them with a minimum price for each unit of electricity exported to the grid over a 15-year period.

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW or UNCSW) is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and one of the main United Nations organs. The Commission on the Status of Women is the United Nations’ organ that promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

This year’s CSW marked the 63rd session under the theme “Social Protection Systems, Access to Public Services and Sustainable Infrastructure for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls”. On the 17th of March 2019, the Commission released a draft of agreed resolutions aimed at addressing the various gender disparities that women face globally. It is pleasing to note that there has been progress towards women’s and girls’ access to social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure, particularly in the areas of health and education. This is evident from the global increase in social protection coverage, more girls attending school as well as access to affordable and quality essential health-care services.

The Commission however, recognized significant challenges which include gender gaps averaging 32% which remain to be closed according to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report. The progress that has been achieved over the years is threatened by budget cuts and austerity measures and multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination faced by women and girls. The Commission stressed the importance of addressing these remaining gaps, as well as inequalities, structural barriers and biases that constrain equal access to social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure.

The following were some of the resolutions made during this year’s CSW;

Education

The Commission reaffirmed the right to education and stressed the need for equal access to high quality, affordable, accessible and inclusive education in contributing to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. It noted with concern the lack of progress in closing gender gaps in access to, retention in and completion of secondary and tertiary education and emphasized the importance of technical and vocational training and lifelong learning opportunities in achieving sustainable development.

Health

A healthy population is the desire for all nations and it is for this reason that the Commission recognised the need to target and eliminate the root causes of gender inequality, discrimination, stigma and violence in health-care services. The Commission also reiterated the need for Member States to promote universal health coverage that comprises universal and equitable access to quality health services and ensures affordable and quality service delivery through primary health care.

Social Protection

Social protection is one of the key instruments of reducing inequality and poverty. Many countries have adopted various social safety nets aimed at uplifting livelihood of vulnerable and marginalized groups. The Commission was concerned with the social protection coverage gap especially for women in some countries which goes against a person’s right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.

Infrastructure, Water and Sanitation

Poor infrastructure, water and sanitation remains a challenge in many developing countries. The Commission was concerned that women and girls are particularly affected by water scarcity, unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, and that they shoulder the main burden of collecting household water in many parts of the world, restricting their time for other activities, such as education and leisure, or for earning a livelihood.

Investment

The Commission affirmed that accelerated investments in gender-responsive social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure, along side gender-responsive macroeconomic policies that enhance job creation and livelihoods, are critical in tackling economic, social, environmental, legal and demographic challenges. These are important for the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and inclusive growth on the path to sustainable development.

PMRC would like to commend Government for its efforts in ensuring gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls throughout the country. PMRC would also like to urge Government to adopt its recommendations on increasing budget allocation towards the health and education sectors which are below international standards of fifteen and twenty percent respectively.

Lastly PMRC would like to urge the private sector to supplement Government’s efforts by promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through empowerment programs as well as strengthening the mainstreaming of gender responsive planning and budgeting of all programs and projects.

Zambia recently celebrated Youth Day themed “Zambian Youth: Generation Unlimited,” on the backdrop of International Women’s Day (8th March) with the urgent reminder to harness the demographic dividend in view of the country’s youthful population. Peace, economic development, social justice, tolerance – all this and more, today and tomorrow, depends on tapping into the power of the youth. Many young women and girls in the world today are breaking barriers that previously made them vulnerable in the face of unequal opportunities and conservative society. Things have changed and many young women and girls in the world today are taking the lead in science, leadership in the public and private sectors.

Zambia’s Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) data shows that youths (people aged 15-35 years old) make up about 36.7% of the country’s total population representing the largest number of youth as a share of population in the country’s history, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).

Further, the United Nations projects Zambia’s youth population to remain between 34-37% of the population for the next 20-30 years, while the World Bank estimates 56 percent of the local labour force comprising youths and this is projected to continue rising between now and 2035.

The Government has created multiple policy frameworks aimed at addressing youth unemployment and encouraged increased participation of young people in the country’s economic development agenda. This is evident from the number of young women and men who have been given the platform to lead in Government and the private sector. Despite these efforts, challenges remain with youth unemployment in Zambia estimated at about 10.5%, above the national average unemployment of about 7.4%.

The private sector has a role to complement these efforts by introducing homegrown sustainable youth empowerment strategies for Zambia.

Having a youthful population gives us a huge opportunity to create tangible and sustainable development for Zambia by placing strong emphasis on youth empowerment now and for the future. With approximately 75% of Zambia’s population under the age of 30 years the country needs to reconfigure its strategies to harness this youthful generation and create opportunities for the future. To achieve this PMRC recommends;

  1. Strengthening Labour Regulations and Skills Development Programmes by focusing on policies to improve the quality of labour supply and achieve better market matches between available stock of labour force and the demands of industry. This should include but not limited to skills training, education, expansion of education access with quality, especially for low income households. Zambia’s Industry use of foreign skilled workers demonstrates further evidence of the shortage of well-trained nationals in some fields and provides an opportunity re-double efforts to increase education coverage and quality. There is also a need to shift university programmes towards producing professionals who can meet the needs of industry.
  2. Improve quality and Technical and Vocational Education  and Training Programmes by focusing on generating on young entrepreneurs that are relevant to the times and industry needs. This should be focused on support to upskilling and skill training to support economic diversification into agribusiness, tourism and construction which provide opportunities for large numbers of young people to engage in non-farm work in both rural and urban areas.
  3. Design labour regulation to support growth of formal and informal jobs by easing the cost of compliance and encouraging the expansion of small businesses run by the youth. The youth are also encouraged to show responsibility by utilizing funding resources based on their business plans to yield better outcomes for repayment and subsequent benefit for other youths because these loan facilities are designed to work as revolving funds. Non-payment of loans by youths presents a challenge for growing the base of young entrepreneurs and Government must align its strategies to increase incubation support to businesses to create a generation of innovative entrepreneurs with unlimited potential to grow.

Given the tenacity, brilliance and innovation demonstrated by many Zambian youths, a “Generation Unlimited” is apt and befitting and clearly demonstrated by the abilities and milestones that have been scored by our youth in the Agriculture and Economic Sectors, Sport, Media, Mining, Robotics Innovation, Leadership, Film and Music Industry and many others too numerous to mention. And this has been made possible by Government efforts to deliberately create a conducive environment for the youth to thrive and giving leadership opportunities to young people that are serving as members of parliament and senior Government officials and those leading in the private sector.

In line with the Government’s National Youth Policy and National Action Plan themed “Towards Skilled, Enlightened, Economically Empowered and Patriotic Youth Impacting Positively on National Development” there is need to break more barriers through closer collaboration between the Ministry of Youth and Sport and relevant Government agencies and stakeholders to report on progress and resolve challenges affecting the youth in the country.

The President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu on 11th March 2019 commissioned Zambia’s and Africa’s First Scaling Solar Project supported by the World Bank to be run by the Bangweulu Power Company Limited. The  facility boasts of a 54 MW first large-scale solar power plant in Africa that  will cover 30,000 households and the lowest tariff in sub-Saharan  Africa at 6¢ (US Cents). In July 2015, Zambia’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) signed an agreement with the International Finance Corporation to explore development of two large-scale solar projects through Scaling Solar.  The competitive auction organized through the program attracted
48 solar power developers, seven of whom submitted final proposals, and the bids yielded the lowest solar power tariffs in Africa to date.


PMRC reiterates the importance of having a coherent, transparent process that the investor and investing public, the private sector, are able to work towards as well as the public institutions  on the Government side
— that is, the IDC as investment  vehicle and the state utility as off-taker, to achieve predictability and a clearly defined process that lays the foundation towards the attainment of this 600-megawatt target which has been set for renewable energy in Zambia. PMRC’s research and policy contributions on Power Sector Reform and Renewable Energy in Zambia have laid the framework for success and provided key policy recommendations relevant to the discourse.

Given the challenges of Rising Demand, Below Cost Tariffs, Over Dependence of Hydropower and  Climate  Vulnerability and  Low  Rates of  Access  in Rural   Areas,  the private sector remains a key investment partner to adequately improving power supply in line with fiscal consolidation. Following PMRC’s recommendations, Government has made reforms to increase tariffs to make them cost-reflective thereby improving the country’s power sector investment climate.

To build on this progress Government has demonstrated its willingness and commitment to secure investment in the power sector without compromising fiscal consolidation objectives through the launch of the Scaling Solar Project. Government must therefore continue to make institutional changes to its planning and procurement capacity to secure productive, cost-effective and diversified power sector investment portfolio.

PMRC therefore recommends that the Government:

  1. Establishes a planning function to develop a strategic vision for Zambia’s energy portfolio and guide procurement;
  2. Establishes a  procurement  function that  sits alongside the planning function to implement the strategy for Zambia’s Power Sector and secure investment at better value for money, through improved commercial capacity, more competitive tenders and a streamlined procurement process;
  3. Speeds up reforms based on diagnostic study on ZESCO Limited to improve the credit-worthiness of ZESCO as off-taker to improve investor confidence through increased financial transparency and more secure guarantees; and
  4. Makes governance reforms to the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) to improve its independence and its effectiveness so that it better serves both investors’ and consumers’ interests.

Renewable energy is growing rapidly on a global scale, with record numbers of new renewable energy solutions ranging from wind and   solar  installations  coming online every year. Zambia can readily continue this  expansion  of renewable energy by utilizing existing technologies, investing in improvements to our electricity system, and making smart policy decisions that move the country towards a clean energy future and harnessing its vast potential for renewable energy.

Improving operational efficiency in the power sector in Zambia will be a key driver for the country’s prospects of substantial progress in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Vision 2030, and the programmes envisioned in the Seventh National Development Plan.