By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka – African countries should change its mindset, devise home grown solutions and rely on effective leadership to develop their economies and fight the headwinds that perpetually rely on external benefactors, Bwalya Ngandu, Zambia’s Finance Minister, has advised.
Africa has come of age, having fought colonialism and it was now time to move away from donor aid in redressing problems affecting the continent as reliance on third parties was long gone
Officiating at the 35th annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank in Livingstone last week, Ngandu warned that perpetual dependence on foreign ideologies would see Africa’s continued reliance on programmes dictated by the West.
Ngandu, a former Zambia central bank governor, said this “moving away idea” will involve the setting up of financing solutions that could increasingly answer to these challenges.
“We urgently need policies and build institutions that will address debt vulnerabilities, reduce fiscal deficits, address the infrastructure deficit and bring back growth for employment creation and poverty reduction. We can do it and we have to do it. Our people look up to us in this room to deliver upon this,” he said.
Ngandu commended the TDB for attaining 35 years of existence and transformation, a case study he said was worth looking at, having grown from the early beginnings in Lusaka as the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), now the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
“The Trade and Development Bank (TDB) has grown to be a true world-class, investment-grade development finance institution, with assets having just exceeded US$6 billion. We need to grow this asset base further to enable our institution to answer to our challenges,” he said.
“This development gives us practical hope that we can build institutions that can help us resolve some of the challenges we are faced with. For example, the recent work of the bank in a number of African countries has aided in addressing fiscal, debt and developmental vulnerabilities through debt refinancing and development finance provision.”
The initiatives, he added, could be replicated in the rest of the continent as they would bring about the much-needed fiscal and external buffers to aid development and assist in reducing the impact of shocks in most economies.
“As a multilateral development finance institution, TDB should take a lead as a symbol of transformation and African excellence in development finance. We envision a stronger bank, essential to the region’s development process through the provision of affordance finance,” he said.
TDB, he envisioned, could do more in other areas, including accelerating trade on the continent as Africa transforms into a continental free trade area, embracing 55 countries with a wider market and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with less trade barriers.
“TDB should start positioning itself to play a critical role in enhancing intra-regional trade which is central to our desired integration. I, therefore, urge the bank to support private sector initiatives aimed at boosting intra-regional trade, including sharing of information on investment and market opportunities through private sector platforms. I am confident that the bank’s management team will respond to this call,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ng’andu urged the TDB to consider financing energy projects, many of which have stalled for want of resources. The lender recently assisted Zambia by financing the US$20 million credit to Ndola Energy Company Limited for part construction and operation of a 50-megawatt power plant.
The plant has since expanded and currently generates 105 megawatts which is complementing Zesco and is now mitigating power shortages in the country, a feat which should be extended to other countries in need of such gesture.
“TDB has since 2015-2016 been supporting Zambia in its Farmers Input Support Programme (FISP), by funding the procurement of fertilizers and supporting increased agricultural productivity and food security in the country,” he said.
At the meeting, Ng’andu took over the chairmanship of the TDB board from Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Matia Kasaija, until the next Board of Governors meeting next year.
TDB president, Admassu Tadesse, told the meeting that a huge financial dividend would be announced soon. Being an investment grade institution, the bank was now in the process of examining various financing vehicles to support ever greed investments at both regional and sovereign levels.