AfDB pledges to support Zambia to address economic challenges

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President of the African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina, has reiterated the institution’s support to Zambia, especially the energy sector. He mentioned that reforms in the sector were critical to boost the country’s economy.

“We will work with the Government and regulatory agencies to improve management of the utility,” he said during a recent visit to the southern African country. "One of the Bank’s biggest priorities is to empower Africa. We need to unlock all the potential we have, whether it is solar, geothermal or hydro.”

Adesina spoke when he toured the Mulungushi International Conference Centre, venue of the Bank’s 2016 Annual General Meetings. The event will be held in Lusaka from May 23 to 27, 2016. 

He expressed optimism that Zambia would surmount the current challenges it was facing, particularly if it diversified its economy. "I feel optimistic about Zambia because the current challenges are not unique; the Bank will support all African countries,” Adesina said.

Zambia, Africa’s second largest producer of copper, is facing a crippling power crisis that has reduced production by mining firms. This has led to job losses in mining, a sector that contributes an average of 11% to Zambia’s GDP. Its currency, the Kwacha, has also been performing poorly. Bloomberg reported that the Kwacha dropped by 41% to the US dollar in 2015.

Adesina emphasised the importance of the country to diversify its economy especially through the agriculture sector, citing the critical role Zambia played in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) regions.

The Bank President was accompanied by the Governor of the Bank of Zambia, Denny Kalyalya, senior representatives from the Ministry of Finance and AfDB officials. Adesina highlighted the AfDB’s strategy to combat unemployment through its “Jobs for Africa’s Youth Initiative”, of which Zambia will be a beneficiary.

The programme, yet to be launched, will equip Africa’s youth to realize their economic potential. It will be implemented across the continent with the aim of reducing the rural exodus and external migration.

Since 1971, the Bank has committed more than US $1 billion to Zambia, mainly through support for public sector infrastructure projects in agriculture, industry, water and sanitation, energy, education and health, transport and general budget support.