STEVEN MVULA & NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has proposed the establishment of a framework of co-operation which will encompass and facilitate multi-sectoral collaboration between Zambia and Togo in agriculture, mining and energy production.
The President says given the similarities in the two countries’ economies and industries, there is great potential for collaboration between Zambia and Togo.
Mr Lungu also said the visit by Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe presents an opportunity for Zambia and Togo to share best practices and information in agriculture, energy and mining.
President Lungu was speaking at State House yesterday when he held official talks with the visiting Togolese President.
Mr Lungu also said there is need for the peoples of the two countries to know each other apart from soccer icons such as Emmanuel Adebayor and Kalusha Bwalya.
“I was shocked at the airport when someone remarked ‘so Togolese are black people like ourselves.’ There is need for our two peoples to know each other,” President Lungu said.
He said both Zambia and Togo desire to have finished products from the raw materials found in the two African nations.
President Lungu said the minerals and other resources found in Zambia and Togo must be exploited for value addition for the benefit of the people of the two countries.
“We both have raw materials that need to be changed into finished products. We in Zambia have copper but we import its finished products, and Togo has phosphate but you import fertiliser. We thus both desire to break away from that,” he said.
Mr Lungu said both countries are on a crusade to build their citizens.
President Lungu said there is need for the two countries to establish a framework to cross-pollinate ideas.
“In view of both countries’ strategic focus on agriculture and livestock farming, I wish to underscore the need for the ministries responsible for agriculture in Togo and Zambia to engage each other with the view of signing a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in those areas.
“There is room for similar cooperation in the area of mining, such as the exchange of expertise in legislation pertaining to foreign investment, royalties, taxing policy and value addition to primary products,” he said.
President Lungu also called for the continuation of collaboration between the two countries in various fora to which both countries share common membership on key issues such as peace and security, reform of the United Nations system and the fight against terrorism.
The two leaders later held a closed-door meeting.
And special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said Togo expressed keen interest to learn from Zambia’s land administration system.
Mr Chanda told journalists that Togo is also interested in knowing how to exploit steel, and so today Mr Gnassingbe will tour the Kafue steel plant.
Mr Gnassingbe is accompanied by several ministers.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has also proposed the creation of a joint permanent commission of co-operation (JPC) between the two countries.
He made the proposal during a State banquet hosted in honour of Mr Gnassingbe last night.
“The JPC will play a significant role in further cementing our bilateral relations. I look forward to positive outcomes from our fruitful collaboration through the JPC for the mutual benefit of the Zambian and Togolese people,” President Lungu said.
He said Togo’s support to Zambia’s quest to preside over the African Union peace and Security Council in 2016 validates the close working relations between the two countries.
President Lungu said the spirit of co-operation will make Zambia and Togo rise above the challenges they face and enable them to seek alternative and innovative ways of improving their economies such as adopting new technologies to generate and boost energy and agricultural production.
“The agriculture and energy sectors are just but a few examples of areas in which our two countries can co-operate to achieve economic growth for the common good of the people of Togo and Zambia. The prosperity of our two countries will indeed firmly set us on the path to achieving the goals set out in the African Union Agenda 2063,” he said.