WHEN Professor Clive Chirwa proposed the sinking of the current Lusaka railway station to free the land above for real estate development, there was a howl of outrage from all manner of experts.
It is now unlikely that the project will be undertaken until the year 2065 when sanity might prevail!
Progress is about sheer tenacity and a strong resolve and will.
Indeed if anybody in Zambia would suggest that electricity for most of Lusaka could be generated from waste material that is currently thrown away in landfills the response would be categorical derision because most Zambians expect miracles and yet development is not linear, it is eclectic and often the result of intuition supplemented with knowledge.
One of the countries that has achieved major success in development is Ethiopia, which has sustained a 10 percent GDP growth over the last 10 years or so mainly because of its “developmental state model”, where government is in total control of the economy regulating all the major facets of the economy.
This model of course has a price in relation to human rights and liberties but has ultimately delivered on its national aspirations and goals.
As we moan and groan about our power outages, Ethiopia will soon be commissioning a 120 million dollar waste-to-energy facility that will use solid waste material from within Addis Ababa.
Instead of using the waste for landfill, the waste will energize a power plant expected to generate 50 megawatts of power sufficient to power half of Addis Ababa.
Very shortly, too, Addis Ababa will commission an electric rail road that will operate in the capital city to obviate traffic gridlock and make travel more efficient and cost effective.
The government is also championing the construction of hydro-electric dams, which by 2017 will generate up to 17 gigawatts of power to meet local consumption and for export.
Among the hydro-electric plants is the Grand Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile, built against protestations from Egypt which is downstream and uses the water for agriculture and economic sustenance.
Most developing countries refused to finance this project but the government devised a system through local taxes, government bonds, donations from wealthy Ethiopians in the Diaspora and general contributions to raise the requisite 4.7 billion dollars for the dam which will generate 5520 megawatts of electricity.
Unfortunately we lack innovation, tenacity and foresight.
At the mention of 500,000 jobs for the youths the only response from the opposition is cynicism.
At the mention of concrete roads, there is equal disbelief.
As a country our mindset must change. We must embrace innovation and change and not to be tied to traditional Western economic models which prescribe paradigms far removed from our reality.
The Government must capture, utilize and engage the Zambian entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by the multitudes that undertake street vending into a productive force for change and innovation.
The eastern tigers have grown not from mega industries or indeed multinational companies but from backroom workshops and shops run by individuals who take pride in what they produce.
Unless we innovate, chances of survival in these hard economic times made worse by inclement weather patterns will be poor at best.