The call for the diversification of Zambia’s economy is not only compelling but is an imperative given the current economic and social circumstances.
Failure to heed such exigencies will condemn us to perpetual victimisation to global caprice and malevolence.
Zambia must take to its own destiny by charting a course that responds to the dictates and endowments that God has availed us. We must respond to the challenges of the global economy in the most appropriate, determinate and indeed practical manner possible.
It is saddening that despite successive Ministers of Finance preaching diversification of the economy at presentation of national budget, to largely venture into agriculture, Zambians have remained dependent on the mining of copper as the major generator of foreign cash to our international reserves.
But life cannot continue in this fashion when the happenings of this year are taken into consideration.
When Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda presented the proposed national budget, he outlined the challenges that the country has faced because of depending on copper exports as our cash cow.
“Mr. Speaker, copper outputs for 2015 was projected at 808 000 metric tonnes. However, by end of August, 2015 copper production stood at 441, 584 metric tonnes. With this performance, it is unlikely that the target will be met. As I have already alluded to, the major factors of this negative performance are the low copper demands and prices, coupled with electricity constraints.
“These developments in the mining sector call for action. For more than 50 years, the call for diversification has been the talk of all successive governments, but we have not walked the talk. What is required is for the country to take meaningful steps to diversify away from copper mining and to further exploit other minerals such as gemstones, manganese, diamonds and gold,” Mr. Chikwanda said.
Indeed we should diversify our economy to cushion any external economic shocks which may arise when our traditional buyers are equally constrained from their own exigencies from fully participating in mineral trade, as the case is now with China facing an economic slowdown.
Our economy must be resilient, robust and capable of accommodating shocks and slippages from external and internal sources.
Copper mining must be but one of the major areas of economic convergence on which the country will become dependent.
We must diversify our economy to the various areas where we enjoy tremendous advantage.
Zambians have been dependent on hydro-power as source of energy to drive industry, including the mines over the years.
With climate change taking its toll this year, Zambia’s dependence on hydro-power has had devastating effects on our hydro-power sources.
There is serious need to change this state of affairs in the energy sector so that Zambians start worrying about the hydro-power.
Zambians should start thinking about alternative sources of energy to beat the devastating effects of droughts on power generation.
Energy sources such as solar and gas should be encouraged in homes and small business enterprises to reduce the demand on hydro-power which can be reserved for major industries.
Unless Zambians take deliberate measures to diversify the economy and factors of production, the woes that confront us in our quest to develop will forever be with us.