KASUBA MULENGA, Pretoria
MINISTER of Development Planning Lucky Mulusa says Government values the European Union (EU)’s strategic partnership with Africa and is looking forward to participating in the
Fifth EU-Africa Summit of Heads of State and Government later this year.
The summit is scheduled to take place in Abidjan from November 28 to 29, with a focus on challenges facing the youth.
Speaking on behalf of President Lungu when he held private talks with EU Commission post Cotonou high-level facilitator Pascal Lamy on Wednesday evening, Mr Mulusa said the summit’s focus is timely as Zambia continues making efforts to address challenges facing young people.
“This is being done by putting in place necessary policies and programmes focusing on youth skills development, entrepreneurship, education and infrastructure development,” he said.
Mr Mulusa said the focus on youths, of deliberations of the Fifth EU-Africa Summit, fits well with that of the 2017 African Union (AU)’s theme, ‘Harnessing dividends through investing in the youth’.
The minister said Zambia looks forward to learning and sharing best practices on how to address the challenges its youths face.
“It’s critical that the youth, who are the future leaders of our countries, remain actively engaged in implementation of the sustainable development agenda and the [AU] Agenda 2063,” he said.
And Mr Mulusa commended Mr Lamy, the immediate past World Trade Organisation director general and former EU commissioner for trade, for his initiative to discuss issues regarding relations between EU and Africa with the framework of the Cotonou Agreement.
“As such, this opportunity also presents a platform to discuss relations between EU and Zambia,” he said.
Mr Mulusa said the EU has continued to be one of the best models of integration that played an instrumental and inspirational role in transformation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and AU, premised on values such as liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The minister said he is optimistic about Zambia’s economic outlook, with its growth this year projected to rise to 4.3 percent against the initial forecast of 3.4 percent, resulting from increased agricultural and mining outputs.
On the future of the African, Carribean and Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU), Mr Mulusa said the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou, Benin, in 2000, is the most comprehensive truce between developing countries and the EU.
The agreement was aimed at the eventual eradication of poverty, while contributing to the gradual integration of ACP countries into the global economy.
“Zambia aligns itself with decisions made by the ACP Group, recommending that the future mandate of the ACP should focus on, and be restricted to trade, investment, industrialisation and services, among others,” he said.