FINANCE Minister Alexander Chikwanda says Zambia and other African countries have the potential to sustain economic growth through intra-continental trade.
Mr Chikwanda said the free movement of goods and people across Africa is good for the continent’s development.
“Poverty is the biggest hindrance to development in Africa. An increase in intra-African trade is a veritable strategy in our continental development,” Mr Chikwanda said at the launch of the 50th anniversary celebration of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Lusaka on Tuesday.
He commended the bank’s support towards the construction of the Kazungula bridge on the Zambezi River which he said would stimulate regional trade.
Mr Chikwanda said the extension of support by AfDB to the livestock sector in Zambia will bear fruit considering that the global food supply is becoming increasingly critical.
He urged the AfDB to support small-and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) by accelerating a line of credit with the Development Bank of Zambia. He said SMEs are a fast route to economic growth and job creation.
“Zambia is proud to celebrate the achievements of the AfDB. The bank is disbursing increasingly large amounts of money and within reasonable timeframes because all development projects have time sensitivity,” he said.
Meanwhile, AfDB country representative Freddie Kwesiga said the bank remains one of the largest providers of finance to Zambia and Africa.
Dr Kwesiga said the AfDB’s current portfolio to Zambia stands at US$635 million and is still growing.
He said AfDB has also supported trade and regional integration in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community, adding that the bank will continue developing new business models.
“The bank cannot only rely on past achievements. We have to continue to develop new business by working closely with Government, donors, private sector and civil society, building our project pipeline with selectivity and innovation,” he said.
He said the AfDB is looking forward to investing in natural resources development, regional integration projects such as power interconnectors, the Kariba dam, and Lake Tanganyika corridor, and prepare bankable private sector projects for Zambia.
Dr Kwesiga said the AfDB had to adapt and improve its business model throughout its 50 years of existence in 54 African countries by being a highly decentralised bank.
The bank employs over 2,000 staff and has an authorised share capital of over US$105 billion.