With more reliance on evidence-based planning, along with a strengthened linkage between planning and budgeting, Zambia could smoothen and accelerate its path to middle-income status.
Hon. Doreen Sefuke Mwamba, Minister, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Republic of Zambia (centre, seated), Esther Wang, co-founder and CEO of IDinsight (third from left, seated), Dr. Frida Njogu-Ndongwe, IDinsight East and Southern Africa Regional Director (second from right, seated), Dr. Sylvia Mwamba, Country Lead, Zambia (second from left, seated), with the IDinsight team based in Lusaka Zambia.
October 12, 2023, Lusaka Zambia – Balancing developmental needs amidst a global funding squeeze, geopolitical tensions, global shocks, and fiscal pressures is challenging for many low and middle-income countries. This balancing act has been particularly precarious for Zambia as it strives to stabilise the macroeconomic environment and restore fiscal sustainability – laying the ground for sustainable economic development.
Zambia is striving to attain middle-income status by 2030 (Vision 2030) by implementing five-year national development plans. However, this ambition has been punctuated by various bumps and detours, reflected in sluggish economic growth, rising poverty levels, macroeconomic instabilities, and fiscal vulnerabilities. For instance, economic growth has remained slow to an average of 2.2 percent between 2016 and 2021, down from 6 percent between 2010 and 2015. The Ministry of Finance’s Medium Term Budget Plan projects that the real GDP growth will plummet to 2.7 percent in 2023 from 4.7 percent in 2022. Additionally, the recently released Poverty Assessments in Zambia Report shows that the country’s incidence of poverty increased to 60 percent in 2022 from 54.4 percent in 2015.
The Zambian government and development partners recognise that getting the country out of this economic tumult would require significant reforms. Given the fiscal pressures and economic vulnerabilities, Zambia cannot afford to lose money on ineffective policies, necessitating precision in policy formulation, planning, and budgeting. With more reliance on evidence-based planning, along with a strengthened linkage between planning and budgeting, Zambia could smoothen and accelerate its path to middle-income status.
Additionally, accelerating the economic recovery efforts while safeguarding the macro-fiscal gains Zambia has recorded so far entails prioritising more evidence-driven decision-making, robust data, and effective M&E systems. Reliance on data and evidence would also enable the Government to stretch available resources further and strengthen public financial management (PFM) and governance systems, setting the country on a secure path to fiscal sustainability and sustainable economic growth.
With a constrained fiscal space, economic stagnation, high poverty levels, and lurking threats to macroeconomic stability (geopolitical tension and global shocks), the government must perform a balancing act between prioritising investments in key growth sectors such as tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and mining while preserving allocations to pivotal social sectors such as health, education, and social protection. Rigorous data and evidence can help government and development partners identify high-potential investment areas, inform prioritisation decisions, and measure progress towards macroeconomic objectives.
Against this backdrop, IDinsight held a round table breakfast meeting on October 12th, 2023 from 8:00 am – 11:00 am at The Intercontinental Hotel to discuss the role of data and evidence in decision-making, budgeting, and national planning.
The guest of honour, Hon. Doreen Sefuke Mwamba, Minister, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, Republic of Zambia, officially opened the event with a keynote address.
“In some instances, we have access to robust, high-quality administrative data but are deficient in resources internally to transform it into digestible, decision-relevant information working with organisations such as IDinsight to enhance our internal capacity and strengthen our data systems will improve program and policy decisions and ultimately impact more lives.” – Hon. Doreen Sefuke Mwamba in her address.
“We see many opportunities across the Zambian landscape where IDinsight can meaningfully support government agencies, innovative NGOs, multilateral development partners, philanthropies and civil society to move the social impact needle.” – Esther Wang, co-founder and CEO of IDinsight.
The timing of this event also presented an opportunity to reflect on the 2024 National Budget and explore policy partnerships with key stakeholders in Zambia.
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30 November 2023
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