CECILIA BANDA, Nairobi
THE South Sudan Peace process between the warring rival parties of President Salvir Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar has made positive progress.
Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba disclosed to ZANIS after holding a closed-door bilateral talks with his counterpart Amina Mohamed in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday.
The minister said a peace agreement is likely to be signed next month following the steady progress recorded so far.
Mr Kalaba arrived in Nairobi last night to hold bilateral talks and also get a brief on the South Sudan unity talks from Dr Mohamed, who is also cabinet secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Mr Kalaba said the Zambian government has been given a detailed report on the peace process in South Sudan which he will present to President Lungu.
President Lungu, held separate talks with both President Kiir and his former Vice President Mr Machar, who now leads the insurgents during sides meetings at the last ordinary summit of heads of states and government of the African Union in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia in January, this year, after he was requested by the two parties to mediate.
â€œAll factors remaining constant, the peace agreement in South Sudan will be signed on April 1, this year, so that the process can be realisedâ€, Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba is also scheduled to hold consultative talks on the South Sudan peace talks with his counterparts in Rwanda and Uganda who are actively involved in the negotiations as members of the International Great Lakes Region.
â€œAs Zambia comes on board in this process, the government needs to consult heavily in Uganda, Rwanda and other countries as this will be helpful to her effective contributionâ€, Mr Kalaba.
Mr Kalaba also revealed that Rwanda is expected to launch its maiden flights into Lusaka on March 27 adding his visit to that country will also seek to establish how best to further open up a trade corridor between the two countries.
He further added that there are a lot of issues of common interest to be discussed between Zambia and Rwanda because Kigali will be opening a mission in Zambia which will call for a smoothening of co-operation as the people of the two countries begin to integrate at various levels.
Earlier at a business community luncheon held in his honour, Mr Kalaba appealed to Kenyan investors to take advantage of the conducive environment in Zambia and explore potential sectors for trade and investment as they remain untapped.
He said there is huge potential for investment in the mining, energy, agriculture and infrastructure sectors in which the Kenyan private sector could finance through joint ventures, foreign direct investment, private equity and local listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange.
â€œThe government will offer investors various incentives that will facilitate for the growth of investment under the Zambia Development Agency Act which provides thresholds that have to qualify for fiscal and non-fiscal incentivesâ€, explained Mr Kalaba.
At the same luncheon, Kenyan Foreign Affairs minister Amina Mohamed said Kenya and Zambia have the intention, passion and commitment to improve on the cooperation foundations that were laid by the founding fathers of the two countries.
Dr Mohamed said the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation between the two countries to be held in June this year in Nairobi will be used as an opportunity to further interact with the business community to enhance trade.
She noted that there is huge potential to enhance trade relations between Kenya and Zambia by improving the sectors identified during todayâ€™s bilateral talks adding that the trade balance skewed towards can be worked on and improved through the JPCC.
CECILIA BANDA, Nairobi