A Zambian official says the “ever-warming-up” relationship between Lusaka and Washington is set to be cemented as President Rupiah Banda is scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this week.
Information Minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapwasha said the new U.S. embassy in Lusaka shows the United States’ confidence in Zambia’s head of state.
“Her [Clinton] coming and meeting the president of Zambia, Mr. Rupiah Banda, provides an opportunity for Zambians to understand the American heart and indeed [allows Americans to] join together with the Zambians,” said Shikapwasha.
Secretary Clinton is in Zambia for the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA] ministerial forum, where she is scheduled to showcase it as the centerpiece of US trade policy with Africa and meet with government officials, representatives of the private sector and members of civil society from 37 different countries.
She is also expected to participate in other events to highlight U.S. government initiatives designed to improve the lives of Zambians.
Shikapwasha said AGOA has had a significant impact on Zambia’s economy.
“AGOA is a wonderful chapter in the life of Zambia. And we believe we will [reach] a …milestone [by improving] the quality of our own produced items in Zambia [so we can] answer the needs of the U.S.A. So, AGOA is a great revelation for Zambia,” said Shikapwasha.
He said AGOA has provided an excellent platform for his government to engage the private sector to boost Zambia’s economy.
“It has been positive and both the government and the private sector have [cooperated] to ensure that greater heights are reached,” Shikapwasha said.
Zambia is hosting the two-day AGOA forum from June 9 to June 10 at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre.
More than 3,000 delegates are expected to attend. The theme of the two-day forum is “enhanced trade through increased competitiveness, value addition and deeper regional integration.”