BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
GOVERNMENT should revisit the implementation model and financing of all road infrastructure projects to influence private sector participation rather than delaying or suspending them.
Delaying or suspending infrastructure development instead of exploring the private sector financing options will interrupt development and disadvantage Zambia in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) era.
This is according to the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI), president, Chabuka Kawesha.
Dr Kawesha said in the ACFTA era, construction of road and railway networks as well as telecommunication networks would dramatically open and expand markets and grow business.
“If we have a cost-efficient and easy way of moving goods to all eight neighbouring countries and Lake Tanganyika that will be a market of more than 210 – 280 million people over the next 10 years for ourselves and those in Southern Africa,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Kawesha stressed the importance of allowing private sector finance lead road infrastructure development models take root in the country now.
He said it was important for Government to draw up a plan for the country’s next 10,000 kilometre (Km) post Link Zambia 8000, Lusaka 400 and C-400 projects in which citizen-influenced companies would play leading roles in modelling, funding and development.
Dr Kawesha said the trend toward greater private participation in infrastructure development is firmly established in many developing countries, and the benefits of the initial wave of privatizations and new investment had become apparent.
More recently, he explained, investors had become active in other types of infrastructure as governments promoted private involvement in water, transport, and other sectors.
“Government should not delay planned road developments or discontinue advanced old or new road projects but to revisit the implementation model, options and stakeholders on each project on a case by case basis.
“As the Country restructures its International Debt assign and reclassify outstanding PPP Road Projects under Private Sector Financing, Concession and Tolling Model,” Dr Kawesha said.
Dr Kawesha said Government must enhance the process of transferring capability of road developments to the private sector and focus on compliance and performance standards, maintenance and road tax among others.