By Friday Phiri, NAIS
Zambia’s economy is expected to grow by 4.2 percent this year and 4.5 percent next year, according to the African Economic Outlook (AEO) 2017 released on Monday, 22 May 2017, at the African Development Bank Group’s 52nd Annual Meetings.
The report which is urging African governments to integrate entrepreneurship more fully into their industrialisation strategies, has revealed that Zambia’s economic prospects for 2017 remain positive with copper output projected to increase by 16% in 2017 and by 8% in 2018.
“Economic performance is expected to improve in the medium term,” reads part of the report. “Copper output is projected to increase by 16% in 2017 and by 8% in 2018.”
Linked to copper production is energy. And according to the report, “the projections assume sufficient electricity will be available to increase copper production while weather conditions remain conducive with a limited effect from army worms for a good harvest.”
With the historic expected harvest of 3,606,549 metric tonnes of maize in the 2016/17 farming season, the agriculture season has performed according to the report’s positive projections.
A key strategy mentioned for the country’s economic transformation are President Edgar Lungu’s five point economic recovery programme—“Zambia Plus”, a strategic tool to balance the budget to sustainable levels following the increase in fiscal deficits to about 10% of GDP in 2016.
And another is the Jobs and Industrialisation Strategy which government launched in 2013 which aims at diversifying the economy and reduce vulnerability to mining.
Meanwhile, in general terms, Africa’s economic growth slowed down to 2.2% in 2016 from 3.4% in 2015 due to low commodity prices, weak global recovery and adverse weather conditions, which impacted on agriculture production in some regions. However, it is expected to rebound to 3.4% in 2017 and 4.3% in 2018.
According to experts here, there are, in fact, promising developments across the continent where growth increasingly relies on domestic sources, as shown by dynamic private and government consumption that combined, accounted for 60% of growth in 2016.
“Although economic headwinds experienced in the last two years appear to have altered the ‘Africa rising’ narrative’, we firmly believe the continent remains resilient, with non-resource dependent economies sustaining higher growth for much longer spell,” said Abebe Shimeles, African Development Bank (AfDB’s) Acting Director of Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research Department.
It has further been noted that progress still remains uneven. “Despite a decade of progress, 54% of the population in 46 African countries are still trapped in poverty across multiple dimensions – health, education and living standards.” And the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Director for Africa, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye believes “The key to successful development in Africa is to nurture the emerging culture of entrepreneurship.”
While the continent has high untapped potential for entrepreneurship, few invest in high-growth sectors, and Director of the OECD Development Centre, Mario Pezzini, said “African economies cannot miss out on their next production transformation,” adding that entrepreneurs should be lead actors in Africa’s journey into the fourth industrial revolution.
This year's AfDB Annual Meetings theme is: Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa