PRETORIA – Saturday, 11th April, 2015 – ZAMBIA has asked Sweden to help in the transformation of the health sector that Government has embarked on in order to improve service delivery.
Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Rayford Mbulu, said that he was aware that Sweden had advanced medical technology and that Zambia could benefit if areas of cooperation were identified and opened up. He said Government was focusing on improving the quality of health delivery and that this could easily be achieved with support from technologically advanced countries such as Sweden.
Mr. Mbulu made the appeal during a bilateral meeting with Swedish Foreign Minister, Ms. Margot Wallstrom held on the sidelines of the 14th Africa-Nordic Foreign Ministers Dialogue at Legends Golf Safari Resort in Limpopo, South Africa on Friday.
Mr. Mbulu also said that Zambia was looking for support in diversifying its economy by strengthening the agricultural and tourism sectors. He also appealed for scholarships for young Zambians, whom he said made up over 60 per cent of the population.
In her response, Ms. Wallstrom said Sweden could, in the short term, assist Zambia establish a specialised medical institution to treat spinal injuries. She said this would be a worthwhile project as it would also come with other rare specialists such as neurologists. Sweden has already facilitated the establishment of similar facilities in Botswana and Namibia.
She said her country was looking forward to building on the existing relations in order to enhance value-based cooperation with Zambia for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries. The minister pointed out that Sweden will assess the requests made by Mr. Mbulu and see how Sweden could assist.
Meanwhile, Sweden has congratulated Zambia for holding peaceful elections on 20th January, 2015 which ushered in President Edgar Lungu. Ms. Wallstrom said Zambia has once again stood as a good example of how good governance should be practiced.
And speaking after the two-day event, Mr. Mbulu described the meeting as productive as it brought together individuals from different backgrounds from whom Zambia drew ideas to help in realising her objectives.
He said the African Union Agenda 2063 was well articulated at the meeting and that Zambia would draw lessons as the country implements the Vision 2030.
Mr. Mbulu said Zambia made her position clear on the commitment to upholding good governance adding that the country stood out in terms of empowering women as evidenced through appointments to key policy positions. He cited President Edgar Lungu’s appointment of Mrs. Inonge Wina, as Zambia’s first female Vice-President, and other female appointees holding senior positions in strategic government ministries and institutions as testimony to the commitment to achieving gender parity at decision making levels.
Meanwhile, the Nordic countries have pledged to lobby their businesses so that they can increase investments into Africa. The undertaking was made at the closure of the 14th Africa-Nordic Foreign Ministers meeting on Friday. The meeting ran from 9 – 10th April, 2015.
Speaking on behalf of the five Nordic countries; Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, Ms. Wallstrom, said the group has resolved to immediately engage companies back in their respective countries so that they could invest more in Africa.
The group also observed that there was need to increase dialogue with Africa through closer and direct communication at ministerial level.
Ms. Wallstrom, however, observed that it should be realised that economic cooperation has to be based on values that were respected by both regions. She pointed out that there were companies from Nordic countries that have had investments in Africa for a long time and still wanted to stay for as long as good governance was upheld.
She disclosed that Nordic countries will also ensure that their financial support to African countries during election campaigns did not interfere with the manner in which the countries themselves would want to conduct their processes.
And speaking on behalf of Africa, Botswana Foreign Minister, Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, said Africa had hopes and dreams that she wanted to achieve and that the Nordic countries were an important ally from which to pick progressive experiences.
Dr. Venson-Moitoi said Africa was keen to tap into the technological skills of the Nordic countries.
And in responding to questions from the media, South African Foreign Minister, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane emphasised that African countries had their respective agendas that they were pursuing in order to attain democracy and other tenets of good governance. Ms. Nkoana-Mashabane said these agendas should be respected even as the countries work to accomplish objectives under other arrangements.
Representatives from Africa were foreign ministers from Angola, Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The African Union was also represented by Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Dr. Anthony Maruping. Zambia was represented by Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister, Mr. Rayford Mbulu; Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Muyeba Chikonde; Assistant Director in charge of Development Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sylvester Mundanda, and First Secretary in charge of Economic and Trade at the Zambian High Commission in South Africa, Mr. Mande Kauseni.
HIGH COMMISSION OF ZAMBIA IN SOUTH AFRICA