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MINISTRY of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Geoffrey Malama (right), with director for press and media development Isaac Chipampe (centre) and his assistant Modern Mayembe at the AfDB media orientation workshop in Chongwe recently. PICTURE: ROYD SIBAJENE/ ZANIS

Zambia ready to host AfDB annual meeting

EVELYN MBEWE (ZANIS), Lusaka
ZAMBIA has the honour of hosting this year’s African Development Bank (AfDB) annual meetings for the second time since 1973. The meetings will be held at Mulungushi International Conference in Lusaka, with no fewer than 4,000 delegates from Africa and beyond, expected to be in attendance.
The 2016 annual meetings’ theme is dubbed, “Energy and Climate change”. This year’s theme is timely as statistics show that over 645 million people in Africa do not have access to electricity and a further 700 million have no access to clean energy for cooking because they use firewood, coal and charcoal for cooking.
An estimated 600,000 people die each year from in door pollution arising from reliance on cooking inside houses which is considered not clean by energy experts.
As preparations for hosting the AfDB annual meetings reach final stage, Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba says the meetings will be attended by about 4,000 delegates, among them, serving and former heads of State. Others invited are business leaders, academia and civil society chief executive officers.
“We have been working closely with the AfDB in this process and also in liaison with the private sector organisations,” he says.
Mr Yamba says hotels, motels and lodges have been secured with delegates booking for their accommodation online.
He adds that the meetings will be spiced with cultural performances and other social events to showcase Zambia’s rich cultural heritage.
Mr Yamba says the main venue for the meetings is Mulungushi International Conference Centre which has been refurbished in readiness to host these high level meetings.
The Secretary to the Treasury implores Zambians who are in catering, crafts and provision of other services, to take advantage of the AfDB meetings by showcasing their products to the delegates during the conference.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services is responsible for the media and the publicity part of the conference.
The ministry, in conjunction with AfDB, recently organised a workshop for media personnel to acquaint them with the event and coverage.
Permanent secretary Godfrey Malama told journalists at the workshop that hosting such international meetings has huge economic benefits to Zambia in terms of foreign exchange inflows, other businesses and investment opportunities that open up the economy.
“Government is happy that the on going investment in conference facilities and other infrastructure developments are yielding positive results in positioning Zambia as a force to reckon with on the continent in terms of what is now referred to as conference tourism.
Mr Malama said a full-fledged media centre and other communication tools and facilities such as internet, will be in place at Mulungushi International Conference Centre to service local and foreign media personnel for effective coverage of the meetings.
Lee Anne Sigh, a representative of JV Partners, a company that has been engaged to manage the event, says the firm has ensured that all the necessary logistics and facilities such as marquees and screens for live broadcast at the venue, are in place ahead of the conference.
The AfDB is a regional multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries.
Going by the preparations so far, it is undoubted that Zambia will deliver uniquely successful 2016 AfDB annual meetings. To the visiting delegates, welcome to Zambia and enjoy the country’s beauty and hospitality.