There is no magic bullet for the Zambian economy.
The answer lies in effective diversification which will employ the full gamut of natural resources that God endowed this country with.
Not even the country’s energy crisis will be solved by a magical solution. It will require that the Government invests in alternative energy sources including solar, thermal and other renewable potentials.
It is against this background that any development and future prospects of national development must be gauged to arrive at a more progressive prognosis.
It is unfortunate that the debate pertaining to economic development is often limited to the dire circumstances that the country is currently facing to the total exclusion of the tremendous strides that have been made towards seeking alternative models and economic paradigms that will take account of the ever tightening grip of El Niño and the severe rout of commodity prices.
These two events have wrought serious havoc to economies around the globe. Not even the oil producing countries that swim in vast resources have been spared. Four of our largest oil producers on the continent namely Libya, Nigeria, Angola and Ghana are running at huge losses because the current price cannot sustain production costs.
At the same time suspension of services is unthinkable because the cost of resuming production would be too high, starting from the cold, hence most mining companies have chosen to either limit production and shelve expansion programmes or simply put their operations on care and maintenance basis.
Either way the result is that revenue streams are curtailed, depriving the Treasury of vital resources. This is the reality that our Treasury must confront daily. Income from copper has dwindled and general revenues too have suffered a drop as a result of reduced imports.
The immediate requirement for the Zambian economy is stabilization, internal expansion and development of export potential.
This is a very hard act to achieve considering that from a budget of K53 billion, revenues from both tax and non-tax sources will barely be above K35bn. The balance must come from borrowing and yet this borrowing must be applied in such a manner that positive investment will give returns that will not only lower the deficit but will in fact spur growth.
The most immediate demands on the Government are to lower costs of governance and doing business in Zambia, build infrastructure and create a conducive business environment that will support Zambian entrepreneurship.
Until now Zambian businessmen have been at the periphery and often totally at a disconnect from the mainstream economic activities.
It is for this reason that we once again appeal to the Government to create incubation schemes that will nurture, affirm and develop local entrepreneurship because without local participation efforts to develop will fail.
There is no country in the world that has developed economically without challenging and engaging the local people.
This is true of Zambia today.