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“The private sector and more especially now, when the country is faced with a constrained fiscal position, is key to actualising our envisaged economic transformation and creation of jobs for our people”. Says Zambia Minister of Finance and National Planning, Hon. Situmbeko Musokotwane in an official opening speech delivered on his behalf by the Permanent Secretary Mr. Trevor Kaunda.

This was stated at a Sensitization Workshop on “Leveraging private sector engagement in implementing the 8th NDP and achieving the SDGs”, organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa, (SRO-SA), under the aegis of the Ministry of Finance and National Planning of the Republic of Zambia and in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI).

He went on to state that in view of the importance of the private sector, the Government has further taken steps to create platforms for enhanced dialogue with the private sector through initiatives such as the public-private dialogue forum to address constraints to the growth and profitability of private sector enterprises. Further, noting that Zambia’s economy is dominated by small and medium enterprises, the government has taken a bold step to support small businesses and enhance citizen participation in the economy, through the creation of the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises.

Ms. Eunice Kamwendo, Director, ECA SRO-SA delivered the opening remarks on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Ms. Beatrice Mutali. She noted that the workshop had three major objectives,  “to discuss opportunities and pathways for the private sector to support the implementation of Zambia’s 8th NDP and the achievement of the SDGs;  listen to the private sector with the view to galvanize support from this critical stakeholder as a driver of trade, industrialization and sustainable development financing in Zambia and enable participants to share experiences and best practices from other countries in Africa on how to crowd-in private sector in the achievement of national development plans and the SDGs, as well as the possibilities for regional collaboration”.

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The private sector was represented by Mr. Phil Daka, Chief Executive Officer, ZACCI.  He stressed the need for continuous dialogue between the public and the private sector and for increased domestic resource mobilization in Zambia. He also echoed the sentiment of the private sector for there to be enhanced public-private sector consultations and dialogue at every stage of the sustainable development planning and implementation process and for the views of the private sector to be solicited when designing policy proposals. 

The workshop mobilized government officials from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises, Zambia Development Agency, Civil Society Organisations and representatives of the private sector including ZACCI, the Chamber of Small and Medium Business Associations, Crowe Zambia and the Lusaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ms. Yande Mwenye, Managing Partner, Crowe Zambia presented principles to integrate Sustainable Development in Corporate Investments and Finance.  She said, “Businesses should engage in proactive investor communications about their SDG impact thesis, strategy, investments, including through investor engagement, annual financial disclosures and integrated financial reports”.

Both UNECA and UNDP delivered presentations on the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF), which is a planning and delivery framework to help countries finance sustainable development and the SDGs while the World  Bank and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) addressed issues related to foreign direct investment and corporate sustainability reporting respectively.  Ms. Mwaka Mukubesa, Director, Ministry of Finance and National Planning stated that the government recognizes that financing the 8th NDP will require policies, partnerships and an enabling environment that effectively mobilises and uses public finance and promotes growth in impactful private finance, and that to this end, it is imperative that a robust INFF to guide the financing of the Plan is put in place.

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A roundtable on the challenges and opportunities for the private sector to contribute towards implementation of the 8th NDP in Zambia was moderated by Mr. Byron Longwe, Chief Executive Officer at First National Bank of Zambia. Among the recommendations, panellists form the private sector highlighted the perennial access to finance constraint faced by businesses and that finance outside of non-commercial banks should increasingly be sought such as private equity funds and venture capital. 

On the second day of the workshop, a session was dedicated to sharing experiences across Southern Africa on public-private collaboration. Eswatini, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe were among the countries represented.

The workshop, which was a deliverable of the Joint SDG Fund INFF project of the United Nations system in Zambia, ended with a call for strengthened public-private sector dialogue and engagement in Zambia to support the implementation of the 8th NDP and achievement of the SDGs.

This Sensitization workshop will be followed next year by a capacity-building workshop on impact investing and corporate sustainability reporting, to be organized by ECA SRO-SA, in collaboration with UNCTAD under an INFF project funded by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA),  in which ECA SRO-SA is the lead implementer.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).