Agriculture and agribusiness play an important role in the Zambian economy, contributing around 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years and about 12 percent of national export earnings. Agriculture employs nearly 70 percent of the labor force and remains the main source of income and employment for most of the people living in rural areas. It is for this reason that the Government has over years endeavored to invest in the agricultural sector through various initiatives such as the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), reducing customs duty on agricultural equipment and the encouragement of private sector involvement.

The Enabling Business of Agriculture (EBA) report measures how regulation affects the livelihood of domestic farmers. It helps policy makers assess the regulatory environment in agriculture by examining whether Government-designed regulations and processes either facilitate or hinder agricultural activities of domestic farmers. The 2019 EBA report indicators show that Zambia is ranked number 3 out of 28 countries in Sub Saharan Africa in design and implementation regulations as well as processes that promote an enabling environment for farmers to thrive.   

The EBA report has eight quantitative indicators which include; supplying seed, registering fertilizer, securing water, registering machinery, sustaining livestock, protecting plant health, trading food, and accessing finance. The report shows that Zambia scored well in five of these indicators, which included; the availability of seed, access to fertilizer, availability of water resources, plant protection and access to finance.

There has been an improvement in the use of improved seed by farmers for the period 2002 to 2019. Particularly for maize, there has been substantial improvement by households using the improved maize seed from 54% to 70%.  This improvement is attributed partly to the liberalization of the seed subsector. The private sector plays a major role in seed production and exports. Zambia is one of the largest seed exporters in Africa; aside from the domestic market, it exported a recorded total of 17,891 tons of certified seed to other African countries in 2011. Other reasons for the improvement in the use of improved seed use include; research, breeding, production, marketing and extension services, which have positively influenced the adoption of improved seed among smallholder farmers. In addition, the traditional FISP has contributed to this increase, especially that hybrid maize seed is part of the FISP package. Further, the Governments’ Food Security Pack (FSP), which distributes free hybrid maize seed to vulnerable households, may have partly accounted for this increase in the use of improved seed.

In recent years, the agricultural sector has witnessed increased trends in the use of fertilizer by farmers. This increase in the use of fertilizer is as a result of increased Government funding towards FISP, which stands at 61% of the fertilizer financing in the country. Secondly, there has been an increase in the commercial farm sector over the years, which in turn entails more use of fertilizer in crops such as wheat, soybean, sugar, barley, and maize production as drivers of increased demand for their product.

Zambia and Kenya are two of the three countries that received a maximum score on securing water as they have put in place sufficient regulation for water management. The creation of the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Environmental Protection is an effort in the right direction in ensuring the protection and use of water resources as well as investment in water infrastructure.

Despite the tight fiscal space from the ongoing debt repayments, the Government has continued to fund the agricultural sector. In the 2021 national budget, there was a 6.7% increase in the budget allocation towards the agricultural sector. The private sector has played a minimal role in financing the agricultural sector in form of loans for greenfield investments, as majority of the lending goes toward financing big commercial farms.   Access to finance for small-scale farmers recently improved with recent initiatives by Zambia National Commercial Bank’s Lima Credit in collaboration with the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU). The scheme enables groups of small-scale farmers to receive a seasonal credit for maize. Loan funds are disbursed in kind through input suppliers, who deliver the inputs to the District Farmers Association for onward distribution to each farmer group, in which the group members are jointly liable for repayment.

The report also indicates some areas of improvement such as the use of farm machinery, plant protection and food trading. These areas are very critical for a successful agricultural sector as such there is need for Government to expedite the establishment of the tractor assembly in order to improve the use of farm machinery, especially by small-scale farmers. The improvement in plant protection is essential, as the country grapples with the effects of climate change which has brought about new pests and insects that are destroying crops. This, therefore, calls for increased funding towards research and development in the sector which will capacitate the research institutions to carry out research and experiments in a timely manner. Lastly, the aspect of food trading is important as the country strives to grow the contribution of the sector to the national GDP. Improvements in food trading include among others, ready markets for agricultural products, food storage, packaging and branding and proper handling of crops after harvest. These aspects of the agricultural sector require improved investment in infrastructure such as roads, agro-processing machines in convenient locations and proper storage facilities.

Therefore, Government is urged to continue providing a conducive environment for increased private sector investment within the sector. There is also need for increased funding towards research and development as well as extension services, to enable the country to score in all the indicators of the EBA report.

Zambia has developed an ambitious Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) to provide a clear roadmap of strategic policy actions and enablers to revive the economy and put it back on a sustainable development path. The ERP has set out a broad strategic intent, and areas of focus to be implemented for the period 2020-2023 that includes restoration of micro-economic stability, attainment of fiscal and debt sustainability, restoring growth and dismantling arrears while ensuring sustainable spending in the social sector amidst the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change.

Before the pandemic, Zambia’s economy was grappling with the effects of climate change and weather variability, low economic growth, pressure on public finances due to debt repayment and currency fluctuations. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these challenges thereby calling for more pragmatic solutions to rebuild and stabilize the economy. In its implementation, the ERP must take into account the profound challenges in the country’s public health and socio-economic sectors by setting out policy options and programs that respond to the current and future needs of the country.

The success of the ERP, therefore, anchors on some of the successes of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) by ensuring it leverages the integrated multisectoral development approach and soliciting support from the business community, cooperating partners, civil society and other stakeholders for their expertise and financial resources. The private sector is an important partner in the implementation of the ERP as it is a driver of economic growth. Government, therefore, is urged to continue implementing a clear business case for the private sector to flourish, thereby fostering job creation and economic growth.

Through the successful implementation of the set out strategic focus areas coupled with fiscal discipline and incorporating lessons learned from the implementation of the 7NDP and the Zambia Economic Plus, the economy is poised for a revival. This will in turn provide a favorable development environment for setting strategic priorities for the successful implementation of the Eighth National Development Plan (8NDP). Therefore Zambia will require adhering to the set out strategic policy areas and options enshrined in the ERP to realize macroeconomic stability, attain fiscal and debt sustainability, restore growth, dismantle domestic arrears and safeguard social sector spending.

Lastly, PMRC commends the Patriotic Front (PF) for launching the new manifesto which is aligned to the ERP’s strategic focus areas of development.

Lastly, PMRC commends the Patriotic Front (PF) for aligning the new party manifesto to the ERP’s strategic focus areas of development. The manifesto outlines the PF Government commitment towards rebuilding the economic potential of our country which has largely been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the 21st of January 2021, Zambia recorded 1,264 new cases of COVID-19 out of 10,523 tests conducted with 12 deaths and 1,747 recoveries. Cumulatively, the number of tests stood at 806,196, recorded cases at 42,213 with 31,522 recoveries. Total deaths were recorded at 597 with 345 classified as COVID-19 associated deaths and 233 as COVID-19 deaths and 19 pending classification. Total active cases stood at 10,094 as announced by the Ministry of Health.

From the time that Zambia recorded its first two cases in March 2020, much of the virus was contained within the capital. In the span of a few months, many cases emerged in major towns such as Kafue, Ndola, Nakonde, and Livingstone, which led to lockdown in order to conduct massive testing on residents. Although cases were recorded each month after March, the infection rate was stable before increasing during the cold season.  Thereafter it decreased once more which led to citizens becoming complacent towards the prevention measures. By September 2020, the number of districts affected by the pandemic increased from 68 to 96 as of 30 November 2020.

Recent statistics between the 1st of December 2020 and the 21st of January 2021 show that cases have been soaring as the second wave makes its mark globally. The increase in the number of cases and deaths has seriously raised Government’s concerns, considering the social and economic impacts the country had experienced throughout the course of 2020. With the current number of active cases on the rise, one would fear the strain this will have on health facilities, and if at all the available facilities will be enough to accommodate patients in critical condition.

Beyond its effects on the health of Zambian citizens, COVID-19 has had significant economic effects. Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised downwards from an initial positive growth of at least 3% to a new forecast indicating negative growth of around -4.2%. In 2020, the agriculture, mining, and tourism sectors all took significant hits as a result of the pandemic. Heading into 2021, the Minister of Finance Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu estimates a real GDP growth rate of at least 1.8%. However, the attainment of this will largely depend on how the global economy performs, Zambia’s ability to keep the virus at bay and how well companies across the country can maintain “normal” operations. In order to respond to the economic impact of COVID-19, Government has drawn up a robust multi-Sectoral approach that it will continue to develop and re-evaluate as the situation changes.

The recent strain of the virus is thought to be more contagious and fast-spreading thus Government is concerned with the laxity of citizens’ adherence to prescribed measures to contain and mitigate the spread. Rigorous measures to try and curb the spread of the pandemic were employed last year which included: wearing of face masks, sanitizing hands regularly, disinfecting surfaces, discouraging the public from visiting crowded places, and observing social distancing of about 1-2 meters, among others. More stringent measures included restrictions on foreign travel, quarantines for symptomatic travelers returning from high-risk countries as well as the closure of learning institutions and certain businesses.

The recent surge in cases has resulted in increased public anxiety and uncertainty as to what more stringent measures will be implemented by the Government and their socio-economic impacts on individual households and society at large. The Ministry of Health is hard-pressed to increase testing capacity, surveillance and mitigation strategies amidst low public compliance on preventative measures across the country to avert the potential of a deadlier strain of the virus as exhibited in the second wave. The onus is on us as individuals to adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines in order to ensure our own safety and that of everyone around us.

This is therefore a call to collective action for all citizens to intensify adherence efforts to the prescribed measures in order to protect the citizenry and complement Government’s efforts in mitigating the spread of the virus, as we await a vaccine. PMRC would like to commend the President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu on his precautionary statement on the need to ensure the safety of proposed vaccines before they are administered to the Zambian citizenry.

On Tuesday the 19th of January 2021, the Zambian Government, through its mining investment arm Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH), completed the 100% acquisition of Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) following its negotiations with Glencore Corporation. In April 2020, Glencore Corporation had announced its intention to place the mine under care and maintenance sighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and low copper prices. However, this was rebutted by Government because it would have resulted in the loss of employment for 15,000 employees.

ZCCM-IH has acquired the 90% shareholding of MCM previously held by Glencore Corporation through Carlisa Investment Corporation (73.1%) and First Quantum Mining (16.9%), giving ZCCM-IH 100% control of Mopani. The Government of Zambia and Glencore Corporation signed an off-take arrangement deal. An off-take arrangement is simply an arrangement between the producer and a buyer to purchase or sell all or portions of the producer’s forthcoming goods/commodities to the market. This sort of agreement is commonly done with the mines to secure a market for their future production purposes. In this case, Glencore Corporation has agreed to sell 90% of its shares to ZCCM-IH, which will fully own the mines after the transaction has been fully settled. This is because ZCCM-IH and Glencore deal is based on a no-cash transfer basis.

The deal is priced at $1.5 billion which will be funded by a loan that will be repaid from sales and profits moving forward. The loan is estimated to be repaid in a period of 10-17 years depending on copper prices which are currently at $8000 per tonne on the London Metal Exchange.  For the debt to be paid, the Government and Glencore have put up terms and conditions as stipulated below. Firstly, the interest of the transaction debt will be capitalized for the first three months, implying that it will report to the balance sheet and not the income and expenditure sheet and thereafter, paid quarterly at the London Interbank Offer Rate which is at 3%. The principal outstanding payment will be paid using a dual mechanism approach. Firstly, 3% of the gross revenue of Mopani copper (2021-23) and thereafter, 10-17.5%. Secondly, 33.3% of the Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) minus (taxes, changes in working capital, royalty payments, and payments in the first mechanism).

The 100% acquisition comes with many socio-economic benefits such as employment security for the 15,000 mine workers. This will have a trickle-down effect on their communities and the nation as large.  The acquisition also provides an opportunity for local mine suppliers and contractors to conduct business with the mines. It is envisioned that this move by Government will increase the number of local contractors within the mining sector, which will enhance the establishment of local mining supply chains. Additionally, the deal comes at a time in which the price of copper has increased on the global market, trading at $ 8,014 per tonne as of the 20th of January 2021, with a projection of above $7000 per tonne in 2021. Government will therefore generate revenue which will not only be used to pay off its acquisition loan but will also be used to enhance economic development in the country.

In order for Government to maximize this acquisition, there is a need for them to amend the Mines and Minerals Development Act No. 11 of 2015 to ensure that Zambians benefit from the mining sector. The amendment of the Act will ensure proper coordination and an adequate legal framework governing the mine. Secondly, poor corporate governance has led to the fall of many private and stated-owned enterprises around the world. It is for this reason that PMRC strongly recommends that principles of corporate governance be embedded in the running of MCM.

The 2021 commemorations of International Women’s Day are like no other. As Zambia makes its way through a devastating pandemic that has shown no discrimination in its effects, there is a chance to reactivate the issue of exclusion and marginalization of women and girls. COVID-19 has delivered home some hard truths: in the social space, women and girls have been more adversely affected by the pandemic. Accounts of increased cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in which some result in death; teenage pregnancies; are just some of the social ills that have dominated the news in the recent past.

In the economic space, women are still striving to put food on the table despite the uncertainties brought about by job losses and reduced business opportunities due to the pandemic. This pandemic is, therefore, a clarion call to action. Women must have the opportunity to play a full role in shaping the pivotal decisions being made as Zambia responds to and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To do this, we must break down the deep-seated historic, cultural, and socio-economic barriers that prevent women from taking their seats at the decision-making table to ensure that resources and power are more equitably distributed. Much of the intolerance and tokenism of days gone by cannot be allowed in shaping the agenda for

women’s participation in the response to the COVID 19 pandemic. Tokenism cannot be allowed in the new normal. A shift in the way we do things and view ourselves can enable women to contribute to the post-COVID socio- economic recovery of the country. Thus it is necessary for women to engage more deeply in the decisions that could change their future and that of their families.

Across the world, women remain concentrated in the lowest paid jobs with many in extremely vulnerable forms of employment. Women have been nearly twice as likely as men to lose their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, the pandemic has dramatically increased the poverty rate for women and widened the gap between men and women who live in poverty. As women take on greater care demands at home, their jobs are disproportionately affected by cuts and lay-offs. Such impacts risk rolling back the already fragile gains made in female labor force participation, limiting women’s ability to support themselves and their families, especially for female-headed households. In many countries, including Zambia, the first round of layoffs has been particularly acute in the services sector, including retail, hospitality, and tourism, where women are most represented. Perhaps this should make the case for the discussion of job creation outside of the formal sector into non-traditional areas such as agriculture, small-scale manufacturing, and mining. We believe that Government, through the 2021-2023 Economic Recovery Plan recognizes this and stands ready to support women. The onus is also on women to familiarize themselves with these important documents and claim this support immediately.

Despite the barriers, women have continued to be at the forefront of the response to COVID-19, be it in health facilities, the service industry, markets, in their families and communities. It is important to note that more inclusive leadership and representation leads to stronger democracies, better governance and better implementation of policies. We therefore, seek to amplify women’s voices and promote their participation and leadership in public institutions, parliament and generally in the development space. With support from Government, electoral quotas to gender-smart business policies, we believe women can help identify and address gaps in response to the pandemic; from ways to address gender-based violence and redistribute economic resources.

Therefore, to build a better way forward from the COVID-19 crisis, and to get Zambia firmly back on track, we cannot simply return to the world we knew before. We must do things differently as required by the new normal. That means shattering the barriers that have previously held women back. This year’s International Women’s Day is a rallying cry for Generation Equality. It is time to finally fully harness the power of women’s leadership to realize a more equal, more inclusive, and more sustainable future.

As women, we ought to ride on the shoulders of those who have led the way: through following their optimism, purpose and courage; believing in our limitless potential to add value to achieve growth and impact. Her Honor the Vice President Inonge Wina at the helm of the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) at such time as this has shown that everyone has the potential and opportunity to be an impactful leader. Leadership, like love, success or beauty is a word with as many definitions as there are people. And like many of these other words and concepts, leadership has some fundamental truths. One of these fundamental truths is service. The pandemic calls for each one of us to serve. Leadership is consciously seeking, recognizing and acting on opportunities to make things better for oneself and for others. The COVID-19 Pandemic represents such an opportunity and women are reminded to take up their positions to serve in whatever capacities they find themselves in; at home, at work, the community, and at national level. Therefore, as we commemorate International Women’s Day under the theme “ Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future In a COVID 19 World“ we recognize the tremendous efforts so far made by women and girls around the world but more so by our own Zambian shereos in shaping a more equal future and recovery from COVID-19.

It is against this background that PMRC, calls for women to be Ambassadors for the post-COVID-19 response agenda as the country implements the Economic Recovery Program 2021-2023.

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The railway system in Zambia is comprised of an extensive network of surface transport with the potential to offer safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly transport across the country and the region, connecting all major centres of economic activity and facilitating growth.

There are two main players in the Zambian Rail Sector, namely, Zambian Railways Limited (ZRL) and Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority Railway Authority (TAZARA). ZRL is wholly owned by the Zambian Government and manages a rail track covering almost 1,000 km. Since the time of concession from 2003 to 2012, the tonnage moved on rail had declined drastically from 1,323,191mt in 2004 to 690,793mt in 2009. This was due to a lack of investment in track rehabilitation and infrastructure upgrades by the concessionaire. After the cancellation of the concession on 10th September 2012, tonnage moved improved marginally to 702,603mt in 2017.

TAZARA on the other hand  is co-owned by the Governments of Zambia and Tanzania. It is a key railway that covers approximately 1,900 km from Kapiri-Mposhi in Zambia to Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. Amidst daunting operational challenges, TAZARA’s annual freight traffic volumes hit a low of 122,473mt in 2015 compared for instance to figures of over 530,000mt in 2010.

Challenges in the sector

The railway traffic dwindled to current levels following the deregulation of road transport in the region, due to high fixed costs, low investments in rail track infrastructure, working capital and rolling stock. There is also a lack of integration among railway companies within the region who have opted to operate as autonomous entities. The average speed of locomotives has also averaged 40km per hour, which is too slow for modern business.

Another challenge relates to the fact that TAZARA and ZRL have insufficient locomotives and wagons. For instance, in 2014, ZRL had a total locomotive fleet holding of 37, out of which 24 were operational while 13 were defective and extensively cannibalized.

Government interventions to increase rail freight

The Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) prioritizes the construction of new rail spurs and the rehabilitation of existing lines to increase operational efficiency, reduce the cost of freight, and increase the tonnage being carried. Furthermore, the Government has pledged to encourage private investment in the construction of other rail spurs, including intra-city transit systems. Plans are also in place to migrate the rail gauge from the existing Cape gauge to Standard gauge to enable higher speeds and higher tonnage of freight. In 2012, Government nullified its concession with the Railway System of Zambia (RSZ) in 2012, leading to an 18% growth in the traffic of ZRL between 2012 and 2017. In October 2018, The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Board approved an investment of $850 million into rail infrastructure and rolling stock for ZRL. This investment is important because it is a wholesome package intended to alleviate capacity constraints of ZRL.

In January 2012, Government brought into effect a Statutory Instrument (SI) to compel transporters of heavy cargo to move 30% of bulk cargo from road to railway in order to optimize the transport sector and promote the sustainability of the rail subsector. The implementation of the 30% quota system is aimed at preserving road infrastructure as well as increasing revenue and efficiency in the railway operations.

Recommendations and way forward

  • There is need to unbundle the rail line operations through the creation of the Railway Development Agency, so that rail infrastructure development and management are separated from operations. ZRL will focus on running its business operations competitively and in a sustainable manner without focusing on maintenance and investment in rail track infrastructure.
  • Government is urged to continue with maintenance and upgrading of rail infrastructure to reach the desired speed of 80km per hour for freight trains and 120km per hour for passenger trains.
  • Zambia should engage in bilateral/multilateral railway route management groups with other countries to collaborate on rail use and infrastructure development to increase volumes and ensure the sustainability of the rail sector.
  • Government is urged to change the policy environment and encourage private train operators to join the Rail Sector industry. These operators can then be charged for use of rail track infrastructure, thereby boosting Government revenues.
  • After liberalization of the rail sector, Government would then need to institute a regulatory body to monitor market performance, competition and safety issues to complement the work of the General Inspector of Railways at the Ministry of Transport and communications.

 This article is an extract from a PMRC Analysis of Zambia Rail Sector – Structural Deficiencies & the Way Forward. . To access the analysis visit www.pmrczambia.com

Earlier this year, the Energy Regulation Board approved ZESCO Limited’s application for an upward tariff adjustment effective 1st January 2020 and since then there have been a number of positive power sector policy and regulatory reforms that have taken place. The Government of the Republic of Zambia approved the Revised National Energy Policy, 2019 which is anchored on the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) and Vision 2030 in order to guide the development and management of the energy sector by considering technological advancement and developments in the energy sector. The Electricity and Energy Regulation Acts were revised to provide for sale and purchase of electricity within and outside Zambia and improve the regulatory environment among other objectives.

Adequate and reliable power supply underpins any successful economy and Zambia has struggled to generate enough electricity to meet growing demand as the country has developed.

Load management has in the past and present time led to severe consequences for the economy as businesses and small to medium sized enterprises have scaled back production and households have had to grapple with long hours of darkness. As demand continues to grow it is essential that Zambia gets the power sector generation mix right for the country to fulfil its potential for growth.

Under investment in the power sector over the years has been largely due to below cost tariffs and a bureaucratic regulatory environment which has slowed private sector investment. Some of the challenges identified include;

  • Over dependence on Hydrological sources of power which made up 80.45 percent of installed capacity as of 2019. The remainder of the generation mix comprised of coal (10.06%); HFO (3.69%); diesel (2.80%); and solar (2.99%).
  • Modelling trends from Zambia’s river basins suggest that hydropower potential will gradually decline in the future due to climate change and increasing water demand from other sources.
  • Low rates of access to electricity in rural areas at around 4.4%. Despite this the Rural Electrification Authority successfully completed the implementation of ten carry-over projects in six provinces across Zambia consisting nine Grid Extension Projects and One Mini Hydro Power Project
  • Below cost tariffs which have constrained ZESCO’s ability to undertake new investments and to a degree its ability to raise capital which in turn is linked to its financial situation.

This mix of factors point to the need for Zambia to focus on attracting private investment in the power sector and speeding up projects that are near completion through;

  • Prioritization of projects that have potential to yield high economic returns in the short to medium term and stemming cost escalation.
  • Establishment of a central planning function in the Ministry of Energy, to develop a strategic vision and delivery plan for increasing and diversifying power capacity in the country through investment in Independent Power Producers.
  • Establishment of a central procurement function to sit alongside the planning function and secure investment in line with the Government’s strategic vision. The procurement process is lengthy and opaque, which has discouraged investment across the board. The planning function should look to centralise commercial capability, run more competitive tenders and streamline the procurement process, which will lower barriers to entry for investors and deliver value for money for consumers.
  • Improve the credit-worthiness of ZESCO: as an off-taker, it is essential that investors have confidence that the organization can purchase the energy generated, which can be improved through increased financial transparency and providing more secure guarantees. ZESCO further needs to revisit the administration of its lifeline tariff by exploring viable options for reforming the current subsidy policy whose targeting is poor (The lifeline subsidy policy currently covers all households regardless of income status)

Conclusion

Historically, Zambia’s approach for power development has been for the Government, via ZESCO, to undertake investment in capacity. The Government has also led the recent Zambia Power Rehabilitation Project which involved various capacity and transmission upgrades as well as demand side management measures. Recently, ZESCO Limited and Power China signed three contracts to develop 600MW (AC) grid-connected Solar PV Power Plants to be located in Chibombo, Chirundu, and Siavonga Districts. This marks a giant step in ZESCO’s efforts to diversify the energy mix in the wake of climate change.

As noted in the 7NDP, Zambia has plentiful resources for electricity generation, including hydropower, solar, biomass, geothermal. The challenge is getting investment in power plants that can convert these resources into useful electricity. There is no shortage of potential pipeline projects.  However, many of these projects can only reach completion if the correct policy framework is developed and supported.

This article is an extract from PMRC Energy Policy Reform Series.  To access the analysis visit www.pmrczambia.com

Zambia has made substantial efforts in trying to mainstream gender and promote women’s participation in political leadership.  However, women continue to be under-represented in the formulation of national policies as well as in the political and economic decision-making spheres due to the various social barriers. One such barrier relates to how the political landscape is characterized and often portrayed with a male ‘face’. Additionally, the political space also tends to be marred with violence and character assassination which poses a major challenge for women to navigate.

The Zambian Government has noted that equal participation of men and women in decision making is a precondition of a functional democracy. To this effect, the Government continues to express strong political will to enhance women’s political participation in the overall national development agenda. Early this year, the Minister of Gender, Hon. Elizabeth Phiri expressed concern over the significantly low numbers of women in politics and leadership positions. She called for the adoption of a Zebra List that seeks to achieve gender parity. A Zebra List is a strategy that will subject all political parties to adopt an equal number of women as men to various positions in order to increase women’s seats in parliament and in decision making positions. In essence, the Zebra list is a marker of good governance because it addresses the gender-power dynamics and structural issues that act as barriers to the political advancement of women.

What needs to be done?

  1. Women need to mentor and capacitate each other in order to build their self-esteem, self-awareness and skills. These factors are critical in raising women’s confidence levels to take up leadership positions and political roles.
  2. Equally, the media needs to change the narrative of how women are perceived by highlighting their strengths and dismantling negative traditional norms and attitudes. The media is a strong tool that can perpetuate potentially harmful representations of women which could in-turn impact women’s leadership outcomes.
  3. Building strategic partnerships with institutions that seeks to develop the leadership capacity of women is of significant importance as they also seek to change how women view themselves and each other in politics.
  4. It has been found that engaging men as agents of change and dismantling gender stereotypes equally yields positive results for women wishing to take up political and leadership roles.
  5. Additionally, creating an enabling environment for women; which entails creating safe spaces for women to converge, consult, share their experiences and knowledge with other women, increasing their civic and technical knowledge as well as securing their access to general education and information on political and national issues.

In the build-up to the 2021 elections, stakeholders such as civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, the media, individuals, political parties and the Government should strive to create a conducive environment to encourage more women to aspire to leadership roles across all party structures. It is through these efforts that gender parity will be achieved and more women will transcend the various barriers that exist in barring them from fully participating in national development and politics.

Conclusion

In spite of significant efforts by the Government, a number of barriers still exist that limit the political participation of women and their advancement to leadership roles. However, various policies and enablers could enhance women’s influence and willingness to take up these roles. At a policy level, the Zebra List will help achieve gender parity by increasing the number of seats women hold in parliament and in decision making positions. Equally, there is need for key stakeholders to continue raising women’s consciousness to take keen interest in politics and national development as equal partners in governance and the development agenda.

This article is an extract from a PMRC analysis titled: “Assessing levels of participation among women in policy formulation”. To access the analysis visit www.pmrczambia.com