The whole issue of the VISION 2030 is extremely pertinent because that is the direction our country ought to be going and I will anchor my submission on VISION 2030. As a country, our vision is to be a middle-income prosperous country by 2030.This was the statement that we agreed to as a nation way back in 2007.
This was the legacy of President Levy Mwanawasa, MHSRIP. When the policy was put in place, 2030 was 23 years away. We are now almost 12 years away from 2030 and very little seems to be happening. A lot of things have happened on the way, but in order for us to honestly and adequately assess whether or not we are on course to reaching VISION 2030, we must be honest enough and critically analyse where we are and what we are doing.
Country men and women, there are many countries that have aspired to achieve the status of a prosperous middle-income country in Asia, here in Africa and many parts of the world. The story of the Tiger nations in East Asia is very clear. The only thing is that there are certain strategic policy positions that any country that aspires to attain the status of a prosperous middle-income country should put in place.
There are certain strategic policy directions some countries have taken to succeed in achieving the status of a prosperous middle-income country. Look at Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea as well as Ghana and Ethiopia. You will see that they are putting value on certain things like education, science and technology.
This is what we as the UPND intend to do in revitalizing and spurring our nation towards that VISION 2030 in terms of poverty reduction and employment creation in the country. The following needs to be done:
1. YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY: The biggest victims of unemployment and poverty in our country are the young people. The young people of 0-35 years are about 80 percent of the population which translates to about 12 million people and unfortunately it is in that number that we find the highest levels of poverty and communicable diseases. The heart, soul and mind of any Government should have this policy direction. What programs can be put in place to ensure that young people have opportunities for employment and reducing poverty among themselves. Us in the UPND have not heard the Patriotic Front give the nation a strategic direction around those programs. The country needs a team that will ensure that strategic policy directions are put in place to combat poverty and unemployment among the young people. What policies have been put to ensure that young people are linked to the land instead of our land being taken over in big chunks by foreigners in particular the Chinese. The young people are supposed to be enabled to occupy the land and capacitated to be productive on their own. This is what countries do and this is what the UPND shall do once given the realms of power.
2. PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT: The UPND shall ensure that Education institutions put in place programs that hinge on the transformation of knowledge and skills for the growth of the national economy especially for the young people because that is what they need as they have the energy, strength and aspiration for a better future. That however, will only be realized when they are given the right knowledge and skills for them to contribute towards the transformation of the country. This as a Government of the UPND we shall strive to do as theoretical knowledge alone is not enough to grow the country towards that prosperous middle-income status.
3.UPND shall emphasise on Mathematics, Science, Technology and Engineering: This is what countries striving to achieve the status of prosperous middle income emphasize in their education system. This is what Ghana and Ethiopia are doing. In the sixties, India emphasized a lot on the training of its young people in Mathematics, Science, Technology and Engineering and today India has made tremendous transformation and many other countries are following suit. This is what we should hear from a Government that understands what VISION 2030 is all about in terms of what our education system can do to be able to give that push that is very necessary in the transformation of the country.
4. DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY : We are now in the fourth Industrial Revolution in the world. We are now in the age of the importance of data and Digital technology is transforming our world. The countries that wish to reach the prosperous middle-income status ensure that they create an environment for Digital Technology so that it can go to as many young people as possible. We need to develop a digital technology generation for those who are from Zero to 35 years. Those are supposed to be given the skills, know-how in the field of Digital Technology if we are to transform this country.
5. SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES: That is very important as this is where the business and minds of our young people are in terms of for example, poultry, piggery and tomato farming. But our young people are being pushed away from the SME sector by foreigners, in particular the Chinese. The Chinese are selling Salaula which is supposed to be sold by our young people. The Chinese are selling chickens and sand from Katuba in our country which is supposed to be done by our young people. Foreigners are coming all the way from far flung countries to come and make blocks here and have taken up shops in the compounds. This is where our young people should be active. The UPND will give hope to the young people by coming up with strategic measures to stop the intrusion of foreigners into the SME sector where the hopes and aspirations of our young people lie.
6.INSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNANCE: The hot issue of strengthening and ensuring that the institutions of Governance are independent is very important. Institutions such as the Legislature, Anti-Corruption Commission, Electoral Commission, Judiciary and the Police must be strengthened and given the opportunity to be as independent as possible so that we can effectively combat corruption and the challenge of illicit financial flows out of this country. This is what countries that want to achieve that middle-income status do so that when you are given the responsibility of taking care of the funds of this country and decide to take the route of corruption, then you should know that things are hot and you will do the right thing. That is what we ought to be doing and shall do.
7.VALUE ADDITION: A country that aspires to reach the status of a prosperous middle income country should empathise on value addition. It should develop its manufacturing sector and ensure that raw materials are transformed into finished products before being exported. That is the best way to earn more money from exports and improve the country’s foreign exchange position. Besides, adding value to the country’s products creates employment in the manufacturing process. Employment creation is critical to the reduction of poverty among the young people.
(Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa-MP for Nalikwanda and Chairman -UPND Parliamentary Caucus Committee)