By Nation Reporter
LOW level of local participation in the economic activities in various sectors of Zambia’s economy, especially in the construction industry remains a challenge and it is hindering job creation in the country, says President Edgar Lungu.
He has advised the private sector to partner with Government in infrastructure development.
President Lungu was speaking at the opening of a two-day Infrastructure Development symposium in Lusaka under the theme; “Promoting Citizens Participation Towards a Strategy for Shared Development”.
He encouraged those in the infrastructure sector to capitalise on the opportunities presented through platforms such as the symposium.
“Once we resolve the issue of lack of economic and social infrastructure, and ensure that our people participate in the economic activities, we will resolve the challenges of unemployment, poverty and other accompanying social ills,” said President Lungu.
He expressed concern that the majority of infrastructure projects were being undertaken by foreign companies with Zambians playing limited role mostly as labourers.
President Lungu explained that one of the key tenets to failure in achieving benefits from a process such as globalisation from where others were reaping benefits lied in the ownership of the processes underpinning policy formulation.
The President also said Government would not surrender its challenges to the global world as others would craft policies which disadvantaged Zambians.
“It has been said before, and I wish to say it now, that, although we now live in a global village, we are still divided into a heterogeneous society in which every single society competes for the global cake.
“This means that if you surrender the process of crafting solutions to your challenges to other global citizens, they will craft policies to benefit themselves out of your misery. We refuse to be that society that surrenders its fate to the manipulation by other interests,” he said.
Meanwhile, the President said Government had spent about US$20 billion on the infrastructure quantum role out programme such as the link Zambia 8000 countrywide over a 10 year period from 2011 to address the lack of social and economic sub-structure.
He said undertaking the infrastructure roll out programme was cardinal as it addressed challenges which existed in the increased population and economic and social activities.
President Lungu said Government linked the infrastructure programme to the agenda of diversifying the economy.
He said project cost over-runs sometimes to the extent of over 200 percent, and project variation had remained a challenge in smoothly funding the projects.
The President had since called on all stakeholders and experts in the value chain of projects to ensure that colossal public expenditure was done efficiently with constant variation leading to over-runs and delayed project completion.
“The two challenges highlighted above obviously contributed to the challenge of smooth funding of projects. The quantum of the infrastructure role out programme, my Government is rolling out over a 10 year period from 2011 is likely to amount to US$20 billion,” he said.