Editor's Comment

Zambia’s partners worth the effort

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu (right) during a meeting with Toshiba Energy Systems and Solutions Corporation president Mamoru Hatazawa (left) in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday. PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE

TO THE uninitiated, President Edgar Lungu’s current State visit to Japan may seem like one of the routine courtesy visits to exchange diplomatic pleasantries.
But two days into his visit, President Lungu’s trip to the Far East country is already showing its significance.
The Japanese government yesterday gave Zambia a grant of 500 million yen to be used to buy modern equipment for the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Zambia (UNZA).
President Lungu is happy that his inaugural visit to Japan has already began to yield results as can be seen from the agreement signed that will benefit UNZA.
The grant agreement was signed by Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe and Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Hidenobu Sobashima.
President Lungu, as the country’s top diplomat, also held talks with the Emperor Akihito of Japan in Tokyo.
He has also met Japanese International Cooperation Agency president Shinichi Kitaoka, while Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development Ronald Chitotela met Japanese vice-minister for International Affairs Yasurohiro Shinohara.
Such high-level meetings held on the sidelines of the state visit explain why President Lungu’s mission is very significant in several ways.
First, Japan has been Zambia’s all-weather bilateral partner for many years and has cooperated with Zambia in social and economic development.
The visit by President Lungu will therefore help to cement those relations as is being demonstrated already.
Japan is an economic powerhouse and a technologically advanced country. Zambia stands to benefit from this front.
President Lungu and his entourage, which includes Cabinet ministers, senior government officials and officials from the private sector, are using this opportunity to pick lessons and lobby for assistance on how best Zambia can industrialise away from mining.
On the economic front, President Lungu is using the trip to woo Japanese investors to invest in Zambia’s manufacturing industry as the chief marketer of this country.
President Lungu and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe have pledged to work together on various issues of interest.
The head of State also invited Mr Abe to visit Zambia at an opportune time and the Japanese prime minister has since accepted the invitation.
Mr Abe has hinted the need to promote trade between Zambia and his country.
It is good that Mr Abe has guaranteed his government’s willingness to continue giving support to Zambia in areas such as health and education, including working with Zambia in various forums such as the United Nations.
Zambia is thus ending the year on a sound diplomatic note following President Lungu’s high-profile visit which has culminated into good tidings for the country.
Japan is one of the countries whose aid is really making a positive impact in Zambia.
Through JICA, that country is working in various sectors of the Zambian society.
JICA is responsible for administering Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) loans.
Unlike some Western countries and a few in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, Japan is not necessarily falling over itself to position itself to influence the world, but just strategically.
Currently, JICA’s support to Zambia is primarily focused on improvement and enhancement of basic economic infrastructure, and improvement of social infrastructure.
Evidently, Zambia has yet another good partner to speed up development for the benefit of all.

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