Zambia on edge of an economic precipice

Since coming into office in 2015 President Lungu has overseen a dramatic collapse in Zambia’s economic fortunes. When countries go through periods of economic decline, as history suggests every country does, these are often down to global trends at least partially out of the control of the government, Zambia’s economic problem however seem to be almost entirely manmade by damaging investor confidence to such an extent it might take ten years to return.

This has been done by two clearly avoidable actions being undertaken. One, the corruption scandals surrounding State House, most commonly through the tender programs, has demonstrated the lengths that a small group of cronies surrounding the President are prepared to go to line their own pockets at the expense of the nation. Whilst these deals are often covered in opaqueness it has become nearly impossible to truly hide these actions and people always find out. The consequences of these actions stop mean Zambia end up paying far more for goods and services than the market price, yet the quality of product we receive is worse. Just look at our roads, which have been said to have cost at times $1m a km, making them some of the most expensive roads in the world. Yet, as every driver can testify, these are often terrible and dangerous. Even when they are finished well, the speed at which they deteriorate is shocking and demonstrates the poor quality materials used.

Secondly, the inconsistency in government policy has led to investors becoming unwilling to provide much needed investment into the country because it is simply deemed too risky. Zambia’s unemployment rates have skyrocketed in recent years, particularly amongst the youth. Our government should be prioritising job creation at every opportunity. The fact that investor are not just no longer coming to Zambia at anywhere like the rate they should be, but existing investors are now pulling out or cutting back their workforce, such as FQM, is a reflection of the shambolic state of economic leadership Zambia has in place right now.

For Zambia to have a chance of developing at the rate it needs to create the jobs we so desperately need there needs to be a huge rethink in the approach by government. Let’s hope this warning is listened to before it is too late.

Open ZambiaComment