Last week, Honourable Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, MP, Minister of Finance and National Planning delivered to parliament the 2024 National Budget which is estimated at K177.9 billion or 27.8 percent of GDP. Of this total, approximately 141 billion kwacha will be raised through domestic resources, while an additional 3.4 billion kwacha will come from grants. Additionally, the government aims to achieve a fiscal deficit of 4.8% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2024, which is narrower than the 5.8% deficit projected for this year. The Zambian economy is expected to grow by 4.8% in 2024, consistent with a forecast made earlier in July, 2023. The budget addresses critical economic challenges and outlines the government’s financial priorities for the coming year.

The 2024 Budget covers a myriad of expenditures on various sectors including recreation or sports. The 2024 Sport Development budget has been allocated 161 million kwacha compared to 125 million kwacha allocated in the 2023 budget, representing an estimated 36 million kwacha increment. This budget allocation will play a crucial role in supporting the sports sector as Zambia continues its development and growth initiatives.

The 2024 Sports Development budget is delivered in line with the programme objective of promoting and strengthening sports participation at local and international levels, providing modern sports infrastructure and training opportunities for all in order to improve the livelihood of sportsmen and women.

In this regard, the programme is divided into four main areas including Personal Emoluments (salaries) with an allocation of 2 million kwacha, User Goods and Services (General Operations) with a budget of 92 million kwacha, Transfers (support to sports organisations such as National Sports Council of Zambia and national sports associations) have an allocation of 37 million kwacha, while Assets (Capital Expenditure) has been allocated 30 million kwacha. Notably, the increment in Transfers or support to sport organisations is due to the devolution of the community sports function to local authorities with an allocation of 30 million kwacha.

The Sports Development and Management Programmes has four sub programmes which include Sports development with an allocation of 40 million kwacha, Regional and International games which has a budget of 90 million kwacha, Sport Management with a budget of 873 thousand kwacha and Infrastructure development which has a budget of 30 million kwacha.

Remarkably, the budget for participation in Regional and International Games has been increased from 85 million in 2023 to 90 million in the 2024 budget. This is meant to increase the number of athletes participating in regional and international competitions, thereby increasing Zambia’s chances of winning medals.

According to the proposed budget and key programme outputs, the Ministry will host twelve community sports competitions and increase participation in community sports to 3000 in 2024 compared to 2000 achieved in 2023. Additionally, the Ministry will educate and train more than 2000 athletes. Further, as envisioned in the 8NDP and the vision 2030, the Ministry aims to rebuild sport infrastructure and support athletes’ participation in twenty regional and international competitions. Furthermore, the Ministry will also renovate one stadium in 2024.

In the last three years, Zambia has experienced progressive budgetary allocation to sports, a clear sign of the government’s unshaded commitment to stimulate growth in the sector. One notable addition to the Sport Development budget is Community Sport which has been allocated 30 million kwacha. Community Sport has been devolved to local authorities or councils which will undoubtedly increase opportunities for people across the country to participate in sport. This is the bedrock of sport development of any nation which aims at enhancing the culture of sport at grassroots level.

While there is nominal increase in the budget for the National Sports Council of Zambia budget (1.4 million kwacha from 1.3 million kwacha in 2023) and a budget of 1.7 million for National Sports Associations, the overall budget of 161 million kwacha to the sports development sector provides significant opportunities for advancing the sector in the country. The recent positive strides undertaken by the government in the sector is a manifestation of unequalled commitment and optimism that will further drive sport development to reach new summits. This will lead to the growth of sport and augment its contribution to national development.

To maximise the benefits derived from the 2024 budget, sustainable strategies including critical success factors for sport development must be implemented. This requires strengthening of collaborations between government and other stakeholders to effectively administer and account for resources at various levels of the sport development continuum, for the greater good of sport in Zambia.

The proposed budget will without a shadow of doubt increase the development of the sector and ultimately place Zambia as a powerhouse of sport in the Region. In this regard, the government must be commended by all stakeholders and Zambians for the positive direction taken with the proposed 2024 Sport Development budget.

04 October 2023