The diverse nations of the entire African continent must reject isolationism and protectionism to come together and unite to achieve true development, says Fourth Republican President of Zambia Rupiah Bwezani Banda.
Speaking at the 17th Crans Montana Forum in Dakhla, Morocco, former President Banda highlighted “a shining example of south-to-south cooperation for sustainable development” following the visit of His Majesty King Mohamed VI to Zambia, which resulted in the signing of numerous memoranda of understanding for future investments.
Former President Banda, who has previously been honoured with the Prix de la Fondation of Crans Montana in 2012, indicated that Zambia is open to developing deeper trade and business ties between and among African nations and beyond. “We have come here in the spirit of friendship and cooperation and we extend an open invitation to the Kingdom of Morocco and its business community. Zambia is open for business with Morocco and this invitation is extended to all members of Crans Montana,” he said.
The full text of Former President Banda’s speech continues below:
SPEECH OF HIS EXCELLENCY MR. RUPIAH BWEZANI BANDA, FOURTH PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA AT THE CRANS MONTANA FORUM, 16TH-21ST MARCH, 2017 DAKHLA, MOROCCO
Mr. President, Excellencies, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to bring you warm and fraternal greetings from the President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu. He has also sent his best wishes for the success of this important Forum.
Mr. President, as this august assembly may be aware, Zambia recently played host to His Majesty King Mohamed VI , sovereign of this great Kingdom with its warm and hospitable people who have received us so well. During the visit a number of memoranda of understanding in various areas of mutual cooperation, including, insurance, banking, tourism, energy, mining, reciprocal protection of investments, aviation, education and finally, a general agreement on cooperation in economic, scientific, technical and cultural affairs which was signed by Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Mr. Harry Kalaba Zambian minister of foreign affairs.
This is a shining example of south to south cooperation for sustainable development. On this visit I have invited, members of our business community to be part of my delegation so that we can follow up on some of the MOUs that were signed with real opportunities.
Mr. President, we must as a world community, place a premium on the attainment of sustainable development in line with the United Nations 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted in September 2015, as they are fundamental for the inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction, employment creation and welfare security. We are all aware of these goals and in my experience, once the environment has been created by government to government cooperation it must be followed up with tangible development opportunities. We have come here in the spirit of friendship and cooperation and we extend an open invitation to the Kingdom of Morocco and its business community. Zambia is open for business with Morocco and this invitation is extended to all members of Crans Montana.
Governments should strive to integrate the SDGs and their targets into national policies, in a manner that balances the three dimensions of sustainable development, (namely the economic, social and environmental pillars) but may I add a fourth; which is the bedrock of all developmental programmes, and that is stable government.
Mr. President, without political stability and peace, no meaningful economic activity can be sustained. Capital in this globalised world seeks out its own ‘peace havens’ and long term gains and without investment no growth can occur in an economy. Without economic growth, sustainable real job creation cannot occur, and consequently social up-liftment in critical areas of Health, education and social harmony cannot be guaranteed. More importantly, without stable government to enact and enforce place environment friendly policies and laws, the negative effects of poor or no laws will continue to grow.
Unfortunately all these calamities are not respecters of manmade borders and territories, the actions of one country will invariably affect its neighbor or an entire region. Need I remind this august assembly about the devastating effects of the global economic meltdown of 2008, at a time incidentally, that I was just assuming office as President of my country Zambia? The worst affected, as we all are aware, were the LDC economies which had no capacity to react to a global economic downturn.
It behooves us all, therefore Mr. President, to stop taking the isolationist, protectionist paths which have become popular in recent times. The rise in conflict areas in the world and the examples of environmental and world economic malaise, point to only one viable and sustainable path for improving the lot of mankind; solidarity.
The initiatives of recent years to strengthen and encourage growth in the least developed countries (LDCs) should be supported by the more developed nations and integrated into the least developed countries development programmes and indigenised.
As we move forward towards trying to achieve sustainability in development, it is inevitable that there will be challenges along the way.
Some of the challenges will be manmade and short term in nature but others will be long term, such as what is happening in my country, Zambia; climate change has had an adverse impact on the growth of the economy, through the reduction in crop output attributed to climatic conditions that affect normal weather patterns. In addition, low water levels have in recent past been negatively impacting on electricity generation, thus culminating in reduced energy supply to the productive sectors of the economy. This year’s rain season, which is currently underway, is pointing to a more positive impact on our water reservoir levels for hydro-power generation; but at the same time, there have been increasing occurrences of serious flooding, leading to damage to crops and; loss of life and property in some parts of the country.
Mr. President, there is, therefore, need to bring together the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, in the context of sustainable development, and the need to eradicate poverty as the overarching goal. To this end, Mr. President, we Zambians are proud that Zambia was among the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 20th September, 2016 and for the fact that in terms of the domestication of the agreement, the Zambian government has put in place the National Policy on Climate Change and has formulated the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Further, and in line with United Nations Conventions against Desertification (UNCCD) my country has taken in-house steps to combat desertification and land degradation by promoting sustainable management of forests and enhancement of the carbon sinks by embarking on the National Tree planting programme. The Zambian government in recognizing that the success or failure of any programme, however well intentioned and planned, ultimately depends on the people and how they are engaged in terms of participation at every stage of the process, has taken the initiative to involve all major stake holders in the process to monitor, assess and implement the plans and programmes arrived at jointly.
This stance taken by the my country to take ownership of this international agreement and localize it, even from the point of resource moblisation is a step in the right direction, but more important will be the level of partnership that other better endowed countries, which in many cases happen to be the biggest contributors to factors causing climate change, will be prepared to render the much needed financial and technical support and help my country and others in similar circumstances.
In conclusion, sustainable development when all is said and done still depends on the human factor. People all over the world seek a good life. They need an environment that is free of violence, pestilences and poverty. Governments must strive for best practices in good democratic governance.
We must focus our efforts on providing education; infrastructure and power generation to ensure our youth has a stable platform from which they can grow. We need to cooperate on these key needs and remember that human beings are incredible creatures and, in the right environment, we will be amazed at the results they can achieve.
Synergy and cooperation are the key words and this forum is the perfect environment from which simple thoughts and actions can grow into major initiatives.
It is going to mean more investment in universal access to education for life skills for our youth; investments in new Information technologies which have an impact on the day to day lives of our people, so that for example subsistence farmers in far flung areas can access the best farming methods and market information.
We all have a stake in this noble global enterprise aimed at improving the lot of mankind. We owe it to the future generations.
Thank you all for your time.