Economic growth inadequate – Chikwanda

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Zambia needs faster economic growth than its current single-digit annual rate to tackle rampant poverty, the country’s finance minister said.

Alexander Chikwanda said he expects the economy, which relies on farming and mining, to grow by 6 to 7 percent this year from 6 percent last year, after improved maize harvests.

“When you have poverty rates of up to 60 percent, you need higher growth rates, double-digit growth rates, to make an impact on poverty reduction,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s annual meeting.

Chikwanda said maize output was expected to jump to 3.3 million tonnes this year from 2.8 million tonnes in 2013. That should help to curb inflation, which stood at 7.8 percent in the first quarter.

“The crop situation has been very good, so agriculture is contributing more to the GDP than it did last year, and going forward we think it is contributing more,” he said.

Economic expansion should also be “a lot higher” next year, Chikwanda said, after production starts in new copper mines in the Northeast of the country.

“Next year, we expect the copper sector will grow substantially, because new mines are coming on before the end of the year or early next year,” he said. A new First Quantum mine should produce 200-300,000 tonnes of copper, he said.

Additional growth would help the kwacha strengthen in the months ahead after the ….

 

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