By Nawa Mutumweno – The World Bank will early this year give Zambia $171 million to enhance diversification and employment creation in agribusiness.
The Bretton Woods institution’s Group president Robert Zoellick has paid tribute to Zambia for its efforts to reform the economy, calling for promotion of inclusive economic growth to create opportunities for rural populations to mitigate poverty.
According to a statement obtained from the World Bank office in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, its board of directors will examine $115 million in financing for water infrastructure such as dams and irrigation canals in March 2011 expected to benefit about 70 000 Zambian smallholder producers.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the bank’s private sector arm, is also investing $56 million to enhance diversification and employment creation in Zambia’s agribusiness.
Mr Zoellick pointed out that Zambia has the potential to increase productivity in the agricultural sector, where poverty is concentrated and become regionally competitive by reducing the costs of produce and expanding access to energy. He was in the country from December 16 to 18, 2010.
“Broader-based, more inclusive economic growth is key for Zambia to achieve its goal of becoming a prosperous middle-income economy,” he elaborated.
He pledged the bank’s continued support to Zambia as the country expands irrigation infrastructure to boost productivity and enhance food security.
There is need to explore ways of tapping the country’s hydroelectric potential, improve transportation, strengthen regional integration to help overcome the disadvantage of being land-locked, he added.
Zambia will benefit from sustaining prudent economic policies, improved public financial management and oversight, in light of the country’s vulnerability to the boom-and-bust cycles of international copper prices.
“To achieve the goal of middle-income status, Zambia would benefit from developing strong institutions of accountability to ensure that scarce resources are utilized effectively,”he said.
Mr Zoellick met President Banda, members of Parliament, the donor community, civil society, private sector and toured Zambeef Novatek Feed mill in Lusaka during his visit. He also signed an agreement to provide an additional $30 million to an existing $20 million programme to help Zambia overcome malaria.