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Business and Technology

Government blames climate change for slow GDP growth

Alexander Chiteme

The government blames climate change for slow GDP growth. Zambia is one of the countries that have relied on commodities, copper exports included in economic growth programmes since independence and has not championed industrialization and diversification.

Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) drop to 2% has been spurred by various economic and climatic factors but the shrinking growth is recoverable in the short and medium-term, Alexander Chiteme, the Minister of National Planning has said.

Faced with the various factors at play, debt accumulation, climate change included, the Government looks ahead and wants to promote exponential growth in various sectors to meet the demands of its 17 million populace.

“The economic meltdown cannot entirely be blamed on President Lungu and the ruling PF alone,” he said. “Nature has a hand in the erring economy and there is little or nothing President Lungu can do to fight it.”

The Minister admitted that Zambia has experienced a slump in economic growth recorded over eight years ago to a paltry 2.5% a record, common in almost all the Sub Saharan states-battling to overcome climatic change effects.

Against the effects of the unforeseen developments, which have affected agriculture, energy, tourism, among other sectors, Zambia realized the need to realign its growth programmes hence, mooting the recovery programme under the 2017-2021 much-touted 7th National Development Programme, aiming to regain high GDP.

Climate change has over the time swept growth in energy, industry, agriculture, forcing the Government to secure financial assistance from cooperating partners to undertake facelift in affected sectors and this has resulted in the reinvigoration of the economy although poverty levels remain high in many households.

Allaying fears from economic commentators that President Edgar Lungu’s administration has faced to provide impetus to economic growth-what with high debt levels and declining agriculture and energy performance, Chiteme defended the administration arguing all the factors were not human-induced but nature.

“The economic meltdown cannot entirely be blamed on President Lungu and the ruling PF alone,” he said. “Nature has a hand in the erring economy and there is little or nothing President Lungu can do to fight it.”

The unprecedented and severe climate change seen in several parts of the country, chiefly Southern Zambia, the hub of power generation, has slowed down the growth of power output, which has, in turn, affected production in the industry-key economic driver.

“We just have to develop the economy even if it means borrowing if we were borrowing for consumption; I would have been the first to resign,”

He said it is unfair to compare the economic 7% GDP growth in 2011 to what is prevailing today without taking into consideration other overriding factors, flood, caused by climate change which has affected power output, leading to the decline in the economic growth today.

Comparatively, the 7% growth in 2011 is not matched to 2019 because of various factors that have arisen and what transpired then cannot be compared to the present day.

Despite these challenges, Government has embarked on an ambitious programme to redress the ills, citing the construction of over 200 secondary schools, roads and other infrastructure, alien to the time under the review-an indicator of rising GDP, though might not be appreciated now.

On cries of high indebtedness, averaging US$10 billion, Minister Chiteme, justified Government’s propensity to contract loans.

He contended many critics who have narrowed their thoughts on the sinking fund as a basis that we might fail to honour debt obligations arguing various plans including euro bond refinancing are on cards. “We just have to develop the economy even if it means borrowing if we were borrowing for consumption; I would have been the first to resign,”

These have given rise to massive market linkages-necessitating farmers across the country to access markets for their produce, a shift from 2011 when the economy doubled.

Zambia remains determined to attain growth under the vision 2030 ambitious, although it is lacking adequate financing but that with determination, the economy was facing a brighter horizon, despite some critics remaining critical despite all the good deeds.

The government will not relent on its ambitious growth programme as espoused under the 7th NDP-which embraces all the 17 sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in various sectors.

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