Edgar Chagwa Lungu courts India’s Ram Nath Kovind
By Jessie Zimba
President Edgar Chagwa Lungu held bilateral talks with Indian counterpart, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind, in Lusaka during a
10th – 12th April, 2018 State Visit to Zambia.
President Kovind is on a first-ever- 3-nation tour of Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zambia, initially at the invitation of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
President Kovind, accompanied by First Lady Savita Kovind, was on a Saturday 7th to 12th April 2018, three-nation State visit Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland and Zambia.
President Kovind’s visit to Equatorial Guinea and Swaziland was the first-ever Head of State of India trip, just as the first to Zambia in 29 years.
President Obiang hosted an official banquet lunch for President Kovind, who latter addressed the Indian community at the Embassy of India.
In Swaziland, President Kovind was received by King Mswati-III, accorded a ceremonial reception on April 9. and held delegation-level talks.
President Kovind and King Mswati-III jointly inaugurated the Information Technology Centre in the Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP).
President Kovind spoke at the Swazi Parliament and met The Queen Mother.
President Kovind held delegation-level talks met former First President of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth David Buchizya Kaunda, attended a State Banquet and an interaction with the Indian community.
Last month, President Kovind undertook a two-nation visit to Madagascar and Mauritius.
Welcoming President Ram Nath Kovind to Zambia and State House, President Lungu expressed delight for us to the guest for travelling to confer on Indo-Zambia issues of mutual interest between.
President Lungu says it is a milestone in the new era of Indo-Zambia relations, since pre-independence era when India contributed to Zambia’s liberation struggle.
President Lungu says Zambia attaches greater importance to relations with India, attested by a Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPC) where four (4) sessions have been held.
“The last session took place in New Delhi in 2005. The next session is to be hosted by Zambia. Our bilateral relations with India have grown considerably, as evidenced by the number of high-level visits over the years and the sizeable Indian community in Zambia, most of whom are well integrated into Zambia’s social and economic fabric. We have since signed Bilateral Agreements (BA) in agriculture, economic and technical cooperation; science and technology, trade, illicit drug trafficking and money laundering; air services, foreign office consultations, and agriculture,” said President Lungu.
President Lungu bragged that Zambia’s potential strategic areas of interest include development cooperation, trade and investment, capacity building, health, agriculture, energy and infrastructure development.
On economic cooperation, President Lungu hailed the Indian government for the support through the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS), promoting energy, health, infrastructure, capacity building, agriculture, and trade.
Stressing Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation (JPCC), President Lungu says there is need to revive the Zambia-India JPCC.
“Zambia exports copper to India and imports pharmaceuticals. The potential exists for increased and diversified trade under the Indian government’s duty and quota free scheme, which covers a wide range of products that Zambia can export to India. The Indian investment in Zambia, is in mining, telecommunications, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, banking, transport, and manufacturing, with the main investors comprising Konkola Copper Mines PLC ltd, Airtel Zambia, Indo-Zambia Bank, Taj Pamodzi Hotel, Maamba Collieries, Taurian manganese limited, Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation Ltd, NRB Pharma at the Lusaka south Multi Facility Economic Zone (MFEZ),” advised President Lungu.
President Lungu encouraged Indian investments to partner with Zambians in the MFEZ, in the development of micro, small, medium enterprises, diversification, and job creation espoused in Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP).
President Lungu applauded Zambian and Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry fostering trade and investment linkages between the private sectors.
“The two governments must establish an Entrepreneurship Cooperative Development Centre (ECDC) in Zambia to promote capacity,” noted President Lungu.
President Lungu delivered an invitation to Indian companies to exhibit at the 54th Zambia International Trade Fair (ZITF) Ndola, Copperbelt Province, from 27th June to 3rd July 2018, themed: “Private Sector Key to Industrialization”.
In addition, President Lungu implored Indian firms to participate in the 18th Annual World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Lusaka, Zambia, from 5th and 6th September, 2018, under International Trade Centre (ITC) and focused on best practices scaling up Trade and Investment in Africa (TIA).
On energy, President Lungu briefed President Ram Nath Kovind that Zambia recently signed the International Solar Alliance Agreement (ISAA) accelerating the use of solar energy, through financing and implementation of priority projects.
“Zambia can benefit from India’s offer of support in biomass gasifier projects to complement other sources of energy and agriculture. Agriculture is one of the priority sectors in Zambia. India must assist Zambia in agriculture mechanization,” said President Lungu.
President Lungu says Government is committed to renewing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust of Zambia (GVARTZ) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
Tackling health, President Lungu applauded India’s advancements hosting patients from Zambia for specialized treatment and training Medicare expertise.
The Indian Government is constructing 650 Health Posts in Zambia and assisting Zambia eliminate cholera and future epidemics through the supply of medicines and medical equipment.
“We must conclude agreements proposed by India in the areas of health and traditional medicine, undergoing internal legal consideration. The Indian Government must remove yellow fever certificate requirement for Zambians travelling to India as World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Zambia ‘Yellow Fever-Free,” said President Lungu.
The Indian Government is providing a short-term skill enhancement and specialized training Programmes, providing educational scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
“India must support medicine, engineering, cyber security, and training of Zambia Air Force (ZAF) pilots, flight engineers and technicians for Mi-171 helicopters.
President Lungu implored the Indian Government to construct Mahatma Ghandi Convention Centre (MGCC), the Jubilee markets proposal, anticipated through financing the Mulupusho market as an indo-Zambia friendship project, under Zambia’s Jubilee Women’s Integrated highway Markets (ZJWH) initiative.
Zambia is a member and incoming Chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) organ for Politics, Defence and Security and the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), promoting peace and security.
“Zambia will appreciate any support India renders as she assumes the Chair of the SADC organ in August 2018. Zambia, as a member of the African Union Committee of 10 of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms, making it representative, accountable, effective and responsive to the geo-political realities of the 21st century. Zambia continues to support calls for UN reforms and stands by the common African position for two permanent seats to be reserved for Africa,” President Lungu said.
The Zambian leader preached collaboration at the United Nations and multilateral fora to address global challenges of climate change, peace and security, terrorism, and sustainable development.
“I am confident that Zambia and India will have increased interaction at both bilateral and multilateral levels. I reaffirm the Zambian government’s commitment to enhancing even further, the relations and cooperation with India for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” said President Lungu.