LPSA contributes to Zambia’s Fourth National Decentralization Conference

Unlocking Sustainable Local Economic Development through Devolution

After the adoption of a new Constitution in 2016, Zambia embarked on a process of devolution. To mark progress to date, and exchange views on the way forward, the Fourth National Decentralization Conference was convened in Lusaka from 26-28 March, 2024. The Conference Theme was “Unlocking Sustainable Local Economic Development through Devolution”.

The Conference was opened by the Vice-President of the Republic of Zambia, her Honour, W.K Mutale Nalumango, and brought together Cabinet Ministers, leaders of key national institutions, mayors and officials of local authorities, development partners, provincial officials, civil society, academia and business.

The themes that featured included updates on the transfer of functions and resources to local government, pursuant to the constitutional provisions on devolution. It also included discussions on local economic development, capacity building at local level, community engagement, private sector engagement and public finance management. The recent increase in funding to the Constituency Development Fund was discussed extensively.

The Local Public Service Alliance made important contributions to the Conference. Jamie Boex, LPSA’s Executive Director, provided an overview of international practice on financing arrangements for devolved functions and engaged the Conference Delegates with questions on how best to structure the mix of intergovernmental transfers (Facebook video of the presentation here). Jaap de Visser, Co-Chair of the Sub-Saharan Expert Working Group, delivered a presentation on comparative regional examples of financing devolved functions (Facebook video of presentation here). He reminded the Conference Delegates to pay close attention to the own revenue potential of local governments and to structure an intergovernmental dialogue on intergovernmental fiscal relations. He also provided an input on the role of research in devolution processes, and introduced the Delegates to the LPSA network. Tinashe Chigwata, LPSA Associate, presented on the devolution of functions and spoke about the need for genuine and clear transfer of functions and played a key role in the Conference Secretariat.  Nicholas Travis, Coordinator of LPSA LoGICA’s project, presented the outcomes of the LoGICA assessment of countries in the region.

The Conference concluded with the adoption of a set of robust recommendations, including (but not limited to) –

  • that devolution requires the re-organisation and transformation of not only local institutions but also national level institutions;
  • a call to review and align relevant legislation;
  • to undertake a functional assignment review; and
  • to move towards a formula or criteria-based way of determining vertical and horizontal equalization.

You can read more about the conference here: National Decentralisation Conference