LAST week, I was privileged to attend a media workshop on promotion of statistical literacy on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and data usage.
This was followed by another one on data users’ needs on SDGs.
Both were organised by the Zambia Statistics Agency (Zamstats), formerly Central Statistical Office (CSO).
During both meetings the main observation was that the agency has more materials than many people, including journalists, thought before.
The rider to that was that currently, the Zamstats resource is being underutilised by the journalists and other professionals in the country.
Of course this is not my first time to look at the operation of the agency because, last year, after a similar meeting I churned out a series of stories particularly on the new Act governing the operations of the sector.
Today, I want to look at one of the categories of the data the agency stocks – the SDGs section.
Firstly, the SDGs are, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
The 17 goals were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and the deadline is 2030 which in Zambia’s case coincides with the Vision 2030.
Zambia Vision 2030 is the country’s first long-term perspective plan aims at attaining prosperous middle-income nation status by 2030 by creating an enabling environment for sustainable socio-economic development.
Back to SDGs, the 17 goals have a total of 169 targets with 231 unique indicators 12 of which are repeated thereby increasing the total to 247.
From the 17 targets, some of which are not relevant to this forum, today we will look at goal number eight – decent work and economic growth.
This aims at promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, and looks like a tall order for Zambia as well as other developing countries.
The goal has 10 indicators one of which has two sub ones.
We will look at some of those items to evaluate how Zambia is performing towards attaining them, nine years before the deadline.
The first target is to sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least seven per cent gross domestic product growth per annum.
About 10 years ago, Zambia could have easily achieved that target because the average growth rate was about six to 6.5 per cent but plunged to regression last year.
The SDGS Zambia indicators shows that the annual growth rate of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 3.8 per cent in 2016, 3.5 per cent in 2017, 1.1 per cent in 2018, -1.4 per cent in 2019 and -5.5 per cent in 2020.
The GDP is the main measure of national output, representing the total value of all final goods and services produced within the country’s borders in a given year.
The next target is to achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.
The only indicator is the higher annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person.
GDP per person employed in Zambia was reported at $8,963 in 2020, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources.
Other than that, we do not seem to have tangible indicators from either Zamstats or other credible platforms to show Zambia’s level of performance.
Further, the world wants to promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship and creativity and innovation.
The other target areas are to encourage the formalisation and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services is another target.
By 2030, it wants to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
This is indicated by average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities.
We will continue, from time to time, looking at Zambia’s performance on these goals by checking on the indicators.
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