Infrastructure development is a crucial pre-requisite for industrialization and diversification of the economy.As John F. Kennedy once said: “It is not our wealth that builds our roads, but it is our roads that built our wealth!”
The Patriotic Front Government has embarked on a transformational agenda in line with the long-term aspiration of this country to become a prosperous middle-income country by 2030. In our pursuit of the African Union Agenda 2063, and sustainable development goals for 2030, our strategy is premised on sustainable Infrastructure Development.
In part 1, we discussed how the country urgently needs to accelerate its infrastructure development programme, to not only significantly improve the well-being of citizens countrywide, but to also make our country more competitive regionally.
The following sequel is written under the sub theme:
Destroying The Unlearned Question That Asks, “Do We Eat Roads?” The Concrete Benefits of Infrastructure Development The great physicist, Albert Einstein said that, “knowledge is having the right answers, and intelligence is asking the right questions”.
In the context of infrastructure development, knowledge is having the right answers on the benefits of infrastructure development to Zambia which include the following:
a) Higher Competitiveness: Zambia’s infrastructure development drive will strengthen its economic competitiveness regionally and globally, thereby giving Zambia a better “business outlook” as an investment destination, instead of being an investment desert due to a lack of requisite infrastructure.
b) Strong domestic market integration: All-weather rural and urban roads, adequate health facilities,Educational Institutions, to name but a few;will lead to a healthier population; greater integration of Zambia’s domestic economy and commercial production from subsistence production levels which would significantly reduce poverty.
c) Robust Growth: Infrastructure development in Zambia will lead to greater economic competitiveness and domestic market integration, making robust, faster and inclusive growth possible.
d) Poverty and Inequality: Not all Zambians are able to meet the desired sanitary services and access to portable drinkable water by themselves. Therefore, by delivering social and economic infrastructure; the PF Government has begun to make it possible for all Zambians to access infrastructure, thereby, reducing inequality of access and poverty.
e) Regional integration and economies of scale – an impossible task without infrastructure development
One of the key hindrances to sustained economic growth and development in Africa has been due to small and sparsely distributed markets. This realization has given rise to a continent-wide push for regional integration.
However, without massive and strategic investments in infrastructure development, regional integration is unattainable. Therefore, infrastructure development will facilitate regional integration, which will open larger regional and international marketsand access to Zambian products and services.
Further, it is important to note that one of the key hindrances for Zambia to realize economic diversification into the export of non-traditional commodities are factors that affect transaction costs such as infrastructure services (or lack thereof); low population (market) density as a single country or being landlocked (without access to sea) – which the PF Government is working to turn into a land-linked country. This lack of infrastructure development not only inhibits Zambia’s comparative advantage in agriculture, mining, tourism and other sectors; but also hampers the deepening of diversification into other labour-intensive production and exports including agro-processing, manufacturing, and services. Infrastructure development will accelerate regional integration and help turn Zambia into a regional economic hub and preferred investment destination as enshrined in the PF manifesto and national strategic documents such as Vision 2030 and 7NDP.
f) Development breeds more development. The more a country develops (i.e., economic, social, environmental, human well-being development); the more it needs essential infrastructure to sustain its development successes and move forward on its sustainable developmental trajectory. If this were not so, the USA, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea and others would not be investing heavily in upgrading and building new infrastructure. They are doing so because, the “engines” of economic take-off and development need infrastructure development. Economic take-off and development cannot be built on the foundation of crumbling infrastructure. Infrastructure development further facilitates development in other sectors such as agriculture. Abandoning infrastructure development is saying, “let other countries in the region by-pass us in development, and let our domestic economy stagnate and then regress”. This is not a future that any right-thinking Zambian citizen would wish for their country.
Based on this knowledge (that is, “having the right answers”) vis-à-vis the benefits of infrastructure development to the Zambian economy; what should follow is “intelligence” in our discourse.
Albert Einstein once said; “intelligence is asking the right questions”. In this regard, intelligent questions include: “what strategic economic and social infrastructure does the country need to deliver economic growth and development as a means to reduce inequality and poverty?” Such intelligent questions would lead the country to a state where politics become knowledge-based and intelligent, learned questions are asked. That is what will develop Zambia’s economic, societal and political fabric.
However, what happens if sections of society continue to deliberately peddle lies and falsifying facts to mislead the simple among us? Should our politics and all its participants then lower the level of debate to discuss lies, falsehoods, unlearned and unintelligent questions such as “do we eat roads”?
What then? What do we do?
The Holy Scriptures in 2 Timothy 2:23 command us to do this one thing:
“But foolish and unlearned (ignorant) questions (debate, disputes) avoid, knowing that do gender (generate) strife”.
Unlearned questions and lies shall therefore be avoided whenever cynics deliberately manufacture such in an effort to distract the PF Government from delivering a Zambia it promised!
A Selection of Current PF Government Infrastructure Projects
The state and levels of development which Zambia wishes to emulate from countries such as Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew; China’s transformation under Deng Xiaoping; South Korea; Malaysia and many others, was not built on thin air. It was through good policy and requisite infrastructure development, among others, which delivered higher development in these respective countries. As stated earlier in the paragraphs, “infrastructure is the foundation and core ‘input’ to all other ‘output’ or production process in an economy”. Therefore, it is imperative that Zambia should develop its economic and social infrastructure to appreciable levels.
There are numerous infrastructure programmes which are currently being implemented by the PF Government under His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. A few of such on-going infrastructure projects are as listed below:
a) Road rehabilitation and construction through the L400, C400 and L8000 in order to link Zambia for robust economic growth and development and wider human well-being.
b) Construction of hospitals and schools to ensure improved Health Service Delivery and producing a Knowledgeable citizenry for a more competitive, and knowledge-based economy.
c) Promoting Urban Renewal and upgrades of squatter settlements through public channels and public-private partnership model.
d) Construction of the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, and the Copperbelt Airport, to strengthen domestic, regional and global economic integration.
e) Other road works and bridges for local- and regional economic integration such the ongoing works on Kazungula Bridge.
Kazungula Bridge. Source:Zambia Business Times
Sketch map of Kazungula. Source: Daily mail
Mongu-Kalabo road (Zambia’s engineering marvel). Source: Zedcorner.com
Mongu-Kalabo road. Source: Lusaka Times
“Development” is not an abstract “pie in the sky”. Development entails bringing about positive change. There is, and can never be, positive change (development) without economic and social infrastructure development.
Infrastructure development and maintenance is a critical driver and input of economic growth and development, and has the potential to significantly improve the welfare of the citizenry in various ways including job creation-especially for the youth and local companies.
The foregoing is the reason why; the PF Government under the able leadership of His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, is “delivering the Zambia it promised”, using the “lever” of “economic” and “social” infrastructure development to accelerate robust “human-centred” development in Zambia.
(Hon Davies Mwila is PF Secretary General)