Friday, 29 July 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

SOUTH SUDAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE CAN ONLY DISMISS ELECTED GOVERNORS IF CONVICTED OF A CRIME - BAKOSORO

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir displays the transitional
constitution of the Republic of South Sudan after signing it
into law during the Independence Day celebrations in the
capital Juba, July 9, 2011 (Getty)

South Sudan’s president said Saturday that he only has the right to dismiss elected officials in the newly independent country if they have been convicted of a crime.
The South Sudan Interim Constitution which was criticized for giving excessive powers to the President of the new state. The article 101 (R), allows the president to dissolve the state legislative assembly and relieve elected governors.
The governor of Western Equatoria State Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro who met Kiir recently said Tuesday that South Sudan’s president had dismissed interpretations of South Sudan’s interim constitution that would allow him to sack state governors and elected state level MPs.
“The president said he has no mandate to dismiss any elected leader from the government unless convicted into criminal act or activities,” decried Bakosoro, who was the only independent candidate to win a gubernatorial seat at last years elections.
South Sudan transitional constitution had proved controversial with opposition groups and senior figures within South Sudan’s ruling party - including the vice president and speaker of parliament - expressing reservations that the power was too centralised.
Kiir signed South Sudan’s transitional constitution on July 9, in Juba during South Sudan’s declaration of independence. Secession from the North was achieved through a referendum, which was a key part a 2005 peace deal ending decades of war.
Bakosoro said he also discussed the future of the states in terms of development for the local population to feel the total freedom and benefits of being a sovereign state, in his meeting with Kiir.
The governor further mentioned that the president revealed that he will form an inclusive government and will increase the seats of the National Assembly to allow more political parties to take part in the parliament in August house.
He further said that in the meeting with the president Kiir disclosed that he will call for the SPLM national convention in order to look at way to iron differences amongst party members.
Governor Bakosoro called upon all the people of South Sudan to remain in harmony and unity as time has come for the development and nursing of a new nation.
“The development of the new nation is our collective efforts therefore we should leave out segregation and division of races and stand as one people for the success of our country” asserted Bakosoro.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

2. 1 MILLION UNDER-FIVE CHILDREN HAVE DIED FROM DIARRHOEA SINCE 2008 – WATERAID REPORT

A staggering 2.1 million children under the age of five had died from diarrhoea caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene since the last AfricaSan conference held three years ago in South Africa, WaterAid has stated.
In a statement released in Lusaka, WaterAid  stated that AFRICA was facing increasing inequality in access to safe sanitation.
According to the statement, the inequity had dire consequences on the health, wealth and development of the continent.
WaterAid stated that as leaders gathered for the third African conference on sanitation and hygiene in Kigali from July 19 to 21, action needed to be taken urgently.
WaterAid stated that diarrhoea, linked to inadequate sanitation, was now recognised as the biggest killer of children in Africa.
WaterAid urged ministers meeting at the conference to keep their promises to prioritise and invest in sanitation, particularly ensuring that they reached Africa’s poorest and most marginalised people, and to work together to accelerate progress towards the Sanitation and Water for All global partnership.
WaterAid country representative Paul Kapotwe said with over 500 million of the continent’s people living without access to a toilet, the promises and resolutions already passed by the governments in Africa had clearly not been realised.
"Our research shows that it is the poorest of the poor who are missing out on these most basic human necessities, having a massive impact on the development of our country and indeed the whole of our continent. For Africa to truly flourish, leaders at AfricaSan must honour their commitments and now deliver on the promises they have made,” he said.
He said new research from WaterAid showed that the inequity was fuelled by poor targeting of aid by both donor countries and African governments.
“Furthermore, within African countries, investments in water and sanitation are not going to those with the greatest need, resulting in the poorest of the poor and the most marginalised groups missing out on sanitation,” said Kapotwe.

Monday, 18 July 2011

UNHCR STAFF DONATES TO UTH

UNHCR staff in Lusaka today donated an assortment
of food and non food items to patients at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) Children's Cancer Ward as part of the commemoration of
Nelson Mandela International Day which falls on July 18.
The UNHCR staff, dressed in the agency's regalia, led by their Representative in Zambia, Joyce Mends-Cole, donated various items such as food, drinks, milk, mealie-meal and detergents.
Mends-Cole commended her staff for personally making financial contributions to the purchase of the food and non food items for the benefit of the patients.
"On this very important day, when we commemorate the Nelson Mandela International Day, we thought it important to contribute to this institution - UTH - which provides medical services to both the host community and the refugees." She said. "UNHCR is mandated to assist refugees, but we thought it important to give back to the Zambian community for the exemplary hospitality accorded refugees over the years."
UTH has over the years worked with UNHCR over refugee patients referred to the institution from the settlements.
UTH’s orthopaedic unit has been instrumental in fitting or aligning prosthesis (artificial legs) for refugee amputees.
"We would like to thank the UTH management for their continued co-operation with my office and the refugees. Issues of children are very close to our hearts - whether refugee or Zambian - that's why we chose to make this small donation to this ward," said Mends-Cole.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

HIV PREVENTIVE PILL TRIALS RESULTS RELEASED

Results announced on Wednesday, July 13 from two studies reveal that a daily antiretroviral tablet taken by people who do not have HIV infection can reduce their risk of acquiring HIV by up to 73%.
UNAIDS and WHO have hailed the new results showing that a once-daily pill for HIV-negative people can prevent them from acquiring HIV
Both daily tenofovir and daily tenofovir/emtricitabine taken as preventive medicine (PrEP - pre-exposure prophylaxis) can prevent heterosexual transmission of HIV from men to women and from women to men.
The Partners PrEP trial, conducted by the University of Washington’s International Clinical Research Center, followed 4758 sero-discordant couples (in which one person had HIV infection and the other did not) in Kenya and Uganda. Couples received counselling and free male and female condoms. The uninfected partner took a once-daily tenofovir tablet or a tenofovir/emtricitabine tablet or a placebo pill. There were 62% fewer HIV infections in the group receiving tenofovir and 73% fewer HIV infections in the group that took tenofovir /emtricitabine than in the group receiving the placebo.
The TDF2 trial, conducted by the United States Centers for Disease Control, followed 1200 men and women in Botswana who received either a once-daily tenofovir/emtricitabine tablet or a placebo pill. The antiretroviral tablet reduced the risk of acquiring HIV infection by roughly 63% overall in the study population of uninfected heterosexual men and women.
“This is a major scientific breakthrough which re-confirms the essential role that antiretroviral medicine has to play in the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). “These studies could help us to reach the tipping point in the HIV epidemic.”
The medicines are available generically in many countries at prices as low as US$ 0.25 per tablet. In November 2010, the iPrEx trial among men who have sex with men in six countries reported a 44% reduction in HIV transmission among those who took a daily tenofovir/emtricitabine tablet.
"Effective new HIV prevention tools are urgently needed, and these studies could have enormous impact in preventing heterosexual transmission," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO's Director-General. "WHO will be working with countries to use the new findings to protect more men and women from HIV infection."
UNAIDS and WHO have already been working with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia to explore the potential role of pre-exposure prophylaxis in HIV prevention. This news will encourage more people to get tested for HIV, discuss HIV prevention options with their partners and access essential HIV services.
It is currently estimated that only about half of the 33 million people living with HIV know their HIV status. An increase in the uptake of testing for HIV would have a significant impact on the AIDS response, particularly if more people gain access to new HIV prevention technologies in light of the new findings.
UNAIDS and WHO recommend that individuals and couples make evidence-informed decisions on which combination of HIV prevention options is best for them. No single method is fully protective against HIV. Antiretroviral drugs for prevention need to be combined with other HIV prevention options. These include correct and consistent use of male and female condoms, waiting longer before having sex for the first time, having fewer partners, medical male circumcision and avoiding penetrative sex.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

ELECTIONS DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED WHEN ECZ IS READY

Mr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda,

His Excellency, Mr. Rupiah Bwezani Banda, President of the Republic of Zambia, on Wednesday reiterated his earlier position that he will only announce the date of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections once all logistics are in place.
President Banda said announcing the date of elections is not done in a vacuum but in consultation with all key stakeholders especially the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), which is mandated to run elections in the country. He said the ECZ has not yet compiled the final Voter Register following the verification exercise which ended on 12th June 2011 and all mistakes had to be corrected.
The President said Zambians, especially politicians, should exercise patience and allow the ECZ and other institutions involved in organizing the elections to carry out their duties without undue pressure. He said Zambia has always held elections on time and 2011 would not be an exception.
On the calls to dissolve Parliament, President Banda said he will only do so at the right time. He said the Constitution of Zambia, which he swore to uphold when he was elected President, is very clear on the dissolution of Parliament and he will not depart from the constitutional provisions.
President Banda said his focus, together with his Government, is to continue building on Zambia’s recent development success while ensuring peace in the nation as the country awaits the General Elections. He appealed to Zambians to remain peaceful, to concentrate on their daily activities and give the ECZ room to prepare for the elections which will be held in a fair and transparent manner.

IN LIBERIA, SILENCING PRESS CRITICS THROUGH LIBEL LAWSUITS

By Aaron Leaf and Emily Schmall/CPJ Guest Bloggers
A man in Liberia holds a sign in support of Rodney Sieh,
whose newspaper was found guilty of libel. (Aaron Leaf)
During Liberia's 14-year civil war, the press was silenced through violence. Journalists now say they are the victims of a more subtle assault. They say a corrupt judiciary and a vindictive use of libel suits are a threat to an otherwise burgeoning free press. 
According to the U.S. State Department's 2010 Human Rights Report on Liberia, "Defense attorneys and prosecutors sometimes suggested that defendants pay a gratuity to appease judges, prosecutors, jurors, and police officers or to secure favorable rulings from them." The lack of successful prosecution in corruption cases and the heavy fines imposed in libel suits have created a culture of self-censorship when reporting on corruption and official misconduct.
The most recent victim of this phenomenon is FrontPage Africa, Liberia's most widely circulated newspaper, which was sued last year by former Agriculture Minister Chris Toe after the paper suggested Toe had misappropriated money. Toe later resigned his post. In February, a unanimous jury ruled that FrontPage Africa was guilty, ordering the paper to pay US$1.5 million in damages, a sum that would effectively shut it down. (For now, the paper continues to publish.)
Rodney Sieh, FrontPage's editor-in-chief, refused to appeal the decision, claiming that with corrupt jurors and a biased court he had no hope of a better outcome. "It doesn't help us to keep wasting money and resources," says Sieh, who said he has spent US$10,000, and months of court appearances, fighting the charges. "We're daring them to shut us down." Sieh says someone representing Toe approached him asking for a US$25,000 out-of-court payment to settle the case. "I'm not going to pay a penny," Sieh said he told the representative. 
FrontPage Africa reported that, during the trial, prosecution lawyers bribed at least two jurors, one of whom signed an affidavit claiming she received US$2,500 in exchange for a guilty verdict.
"You had a case where a juror said they were bribed," Sieh said. "You had an opposition lawyer talking to one of the jurors outside the court. The judge allowed the case to go on. In any other country it would have been thrown out. It's frustrating."
In January, Sieh was incarcerated for contempt of court in an unrelated case. FrontPage Africa had published a letter to the editor claiming a Supreme Court judge was biased during a criminal case. When summoned for questioning, he was found in contempt and sentenced to 30 days in jail and a fine. He was released two days later after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf intervened.
Rival paper the New Democrat is also battling a libel suit from opposition candidate Simeon Freeman. Freeman alleges that in 2010, a story that ran in the paper portrayed him as incompetent. In the story, the paper criticized a deal, citing a General Auditing Commission report, in which Freeman, a satellite television mogul, received a US$900,000 government contract to import road equipment that was never used.
Unlike Sieh, Kamara has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. He was told by his lawyers that if he paid US$15,000 he'd get a favorable ruling, something he refused to do. "The case is clear--in libel you have to prove malice or reckless disregard for the truth," Kamara said.
Kamara believes that libel is a new form of manipulation that powerful Liberians employ to control what's reported. "Under the military regime and under Charles Taylor, there was so much suffocation of media freedom, they'd either come and close you down or burn the place down. But now with international focus on this government, you can see the manipulation of the media to be seen operating within the confines of the law." In 1996, the offices of New Democrat were burned down by Taylor's forces and Kamara fled the country to Ghana.
Since Sirleaf's democratic election in 2005, which ended a decade of war, not a single newspaper has won a libel case.
"Should journalists be made to account for their reckless actions? Yes, they should," Press Union of Liberia president Peter Quaqua said in a recent speech. "But when public officials who are entrusted with public authority and resources including the president of the republic, who is protected by law from suits, decide to sue a journalist, we think it is nothing more than intimidation."
Last year, the New Broom newspaper shut down after losing a US$5 million libel suit brought by Sirleaf.
Sieh thinks libel should be used to curb irresponsible reporting. But he thinks public actors should also learn to embrace criticism. "If you're in public office, you should be able to take criticism, no matter what form it comes in," he said. "A lot of times I've noticed this government is not being tolerant, and that's a bad sign for any democracy."
Aaron Leaf was a media trainer in Monrovia with Journalists for Human Rights. Emily Schmall is country director for New Narratives, a mentorship program for young female journalists in Liberia.

Monday, 11 July 2011

AGOA FORUM 2011: THE NEXT STEP


By Ben Kangwa in Washington DC
Ben Kangwa
During a trip to Lusaka for the 2011 (AGOA) African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum, which was held from 8th – 10th June, 2011,  US Trade Representative, Secretary of State Ambassador Ron Kirk’s  described the Lusaka Forum as “one of the most productive forums ever held on the African continent in the recent past.”  The statement was also endorsed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during the official closing.
In separate interviews, the President of the Corporate Council on Africa, Mr. Steve Hayes with his Vice President, Mr. Tim McCoy described the recent AGOA Forum as the best ever organized.
 Mr. Hayes added, “The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) has been involved with AGOA   meetings since 2002 in four other countries in Africa. Nothing beats Zambia so far.”
And the President of the Coca Cola Africa Foundation, Mr. Wilson Asiko and Dr. Susan Mboya the Coca-Cola Group Director – EuroAsia and Africa Group responsible for Women’s Economic Empowerment also echoed similar sentiments in a ZNBC television interview.
Mr. Asiko said there was something magical about Zambia that had made Coca-Cola Company invest and expand its activities in the country in the spirit of AGOA.
He said the Coca-Cola Company’s participation in the AGOA Forum 2011 this year had been more visible than ever before.
During the interview, Mr. Asiko stated that his company would invest more than US$50 million in the Zambian economy in the coming years.
 He also observed that Coca-Cola has been involved with the “war against malaria” in Zambia in recent years and referred to his company’s shipment of about 12,000 mosquito nets to Sesheke in conjunction with actress Sharon Stone and Mr. Chris Flowers, a billionaire investor.
The Coca-Cola Group Director – EuroAsia and Africa responsible for Women Economic Empowerment, Dr. Mboya, on the other hand stated that women play an important role in any economy in Africa and elsewhere. She said the fact that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was attending the 2011 AGOA Forum was testimony of her commitment towards advancing women’s empowerment in the world economy.
Dr. Mboya is daughter of the late Mr. Tom Mboya who was a prominent Kenyan politician assassinated in 1969 in Nairobi, Kenya.  
At the official opening of the Meeting, President Rupiah Banda stressed the need for regional economic blocks like COMESA, SADC and EAC to work together in collaboration with the African Union to enhance the integration Agenda.
The President called for greater concerted efforts to diversify American imports away from Africa’s raw materials and to engage in activities that facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills.
He highlighted the fact that more than 90 per cent of American imports under the AGOA framework are related to energy such as oil, but there remains a huge opportunity for more agricultural crops, including processed goods, to make their way onto American supermarket shelves.
He said,”It is my hope that we are going to have candid and frank deliberations around the key elements as highlighted in this year’s theme.”
And President Barack Obama, in his letter to AGOA delegates, read by US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk, sent very positive signals that the Obama Administration looks forward to working with Congress to make AGOA sustainable and more predictable.
Obama also announced the Administration’s intent to work with Congress to extend AGOA’s 3rd Fabric provision through 2015.
 This important provision allows eligible AGOA countries to export apparel products made with textiles from AGOA eligible countries duty-free access to the United States of America.
 President Obama said the time was ripe for African economies to grow by taking advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
 He also said with   the extension of AGOA to 2025, he was optimistic that many of the African economies would grow stronger.
“The time of change for Africa is now and African economies must experience growth, he emphasized.
The US President said it was important that African countries supported the new initiative entitled “Enterprise for Development: A New Policy Approach Towards Africa”, whose objective was to extend AGOA to 2025
He said the fact that senior members in his administration were in attendance at the summit was evidence of the importance that he attached to AGOA.
Further, President Obama said AGOA would as much as possible find ways and means of helping African countries grow their economies.
President   Obama noted that Africa was America’s partner and it would, therefore be wrong to see the continent’s economies remain in the doldrums
“I am certain that with the warm economic ties, we will soon be hearing of news that   your economies are no longer small,” President Obama said
He concluded by remarking that AGOA was the cornerstone for Africa’s economic growth and therefore, asked African leaders to be fully committed to AGOA.
And Ambassador Ron Kirk, announced that the Obama Administration had committed US$30 million per year for the next four years to boost trade capacities in Africa under a new program dubbed “African Competitiveness and Trade Expansion Initiative (ACTE)
“ACTE will provide US$120 million over four years to build on the success of Africa’s regional trade hubs and help African nations to realize AGOA’s full potential,” he said.
Further, he pointed out; “President Obama and I see extraordinary promise and potential in Africa. AGOA has produced 11 years of positive results, but we understand that more needs to be done to tap into Africa’s great potential. That is why I am pleased to announce this new investment today. ACTE is the next step in growing and expanding Africa’s economic competitiveness.”
AGOA eligible countries have argued that they would only benefit from AGOA preferences if trade preferences were accompanied by trade related capacity building support.
On the final day, President Rupiah Banda endorsed “Enterprise for Development”, a proposal calling for a number of important enhancements to AGOA that was introduced in Washington DC in 2010 by the AGOA Action Committee.
Among the proposed changes was a recommendation to increase tax incentives for US businesses operating in Africa. Other calls for creative approaches that benefit both the US and Africa were echoed by the Minister for Trade and Industry of Ghana, Hon. Hanna Tetteh.
All having been said and done, it was time for the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton to close 10th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum on 10th June, 2011.
 The Secretary of State pledged that the economies of Africa are well placed to benefit even more through AGOA in the coming years.
She also observed that in the past decade, Africa’s exports to the United States had quadrupled to US$4 billion, not counting oil.
She noted that the growth in trade over the past decade was an accomplishment worth celebrating, both because of what it had meant for the people of Africa, and because of what it says about the possibilities that lie ahead.
“Today Africa is in a strong position to build on this progress. Although it still faces many challenges in many areas, the region is undeniably more stable, more democratic and more prosperous than a decade ago.
“At the same time, we cannot ignore the signs that we have not made the most of AGOA. African countries export only a handful of the 6,500 products that are eligible for duty-free shipping. The most common export of all is still a barrel of oil,” Mrs. Clinton said.
She added, “As we look to renew this trade agreement, we must decide whether we are willing to do what’s necessary to make the most of its benefits. We either move ahead or risk failing to live up to the hopes we all shared 11 years ago.”
She appreciated the fact that the theme for the 10th AGOA Forum, “Enhanced Trade through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration” had indeed an element focusing on deepening regional integration.
She applauded the efforts being made by Africans, citing the Second Tripartite Heads of State summit that took place on June 12, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa as being an important step towards deepening regional integration.
At this summit, three pillars on which economic integration of the Tripartite region would be anchored were agreed as Market Integration, Infrastructure Development and Industrial Development.
The Secretary of State also hailed women for their significant contribution towards African economies and the rest of the world.
She noted that evidence showed that small and medium sized enterprises run by women were major drivers of economic growth, adding that when a woman prospered, she reinvented her earnings in her family and that the positive effects rippled throughout the entire community.
Mrs. Clinton further said there was need to help more women connect to the global economy adding that no country could survive when half of its people are left behind.
She, however, observed that cultural traditions continued to make it difficult for a woman to start a business as they discouraged her from handling money or managing employees.
 Having officially closed the 2011 Forum that government officials, business leaders and Civil Society from African countries and the United States convened to promote trade, business and investment opportunities that sustain economic development in Africa, the countdown that begun in September 2010 finally came to a happy ending.
During the conference sessions for the private sector and civil society as well as involvement of participants of the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the Young Business Leaders.
But from a Zambian point of view, what made the 10th AGOA Forum meeting in Lusaka  so  different from previous ones held in Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and Mauritius?
The considered view is that Zambia did not only put up a successful Forum but further arranged what many stakeholders from the United States of America, AGOA eligible countries in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and International Organizations dubbed “the best AGOA Forum ever so far .”
From the beginning, the government committed itself to making the 10th AGOA Forum unique. 
It was unique in many respects – Organizationally, many agree that it was excellent. More importantly however, was the attention paid to the commercial side of AGOA that resulted in many deals worth millions of dollars in investment on the continent being signed.
Said Zambia’s Ambassador to the USA, “It was a deliverable Forum where I believe contracts and tangible results were arrived at. Our challenge now is to put all these pronouncements into action.”
The American Ambassador to Zambia, Amb. Mark Storella had earlier said the AGOA Forum was going to cast a spotlight on Zambia and would no doubt increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
In an exclusive interview with me on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) television Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Mr. Felix Mutati first stated that the 10th AGOA Forum should be viewed as a transition point for Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) – US trade relations.
He said that the 10th AGOA and future Forums should focus on transforming the lives of the African people through job and wealth creation.
“The 10th AGOA Forum should result in American companies establishing partnerships in Africa that will translate in the movement of goods and cash between the two continents,” he added.
Asked as to why the Government   decided to host the AGOA Forum given that the level of bilateral trade between Zambia and the United States is “skewed” in favour of the United States, Minister Mutati explained that from the government’s point of view the reason to host the Forum was to basically provide a platform for attracting Foreign Direct Investment to Zambia and that this dream had to be realized.
 He stressed that at the end of the day the AGOA arrangement had moved from the “talk” to actual realities in terms of business deals signed between American and Zambian companies.
A  good  and perfect example  of this fact  was  that of a  US based company, Tagos Group whose Chairman, Mr. Milton Scott  signed an agreement to raise  US$500 million in private equity finance for a 254 km  railway line in the North-Western Province of Zambia.
The project was anticipated to create about  4,000 jobs during the construction phase and was expected to connect Zambia to Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), part of the funding of which would come from the African Development Bank (AfDB)
Further, Tagos Group of Companies    also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Housing Authority (NHA) for the construction of 1000 housing units to be built in Lusaka and the Copperbelt, first as pilot project.
 Construction of the units would go a long way in cushioning a housing deficit which stands at about two million according to National Housing Authority (NHA) Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Elias Mpondela
 Freshpikt, an agro processing Zambian company also signed a letter of intent for a joint venture with PS International of the United States to invest US$42 million as a start out of US$100 worth of new investment in tomato processing between 2011 – 2016.
At this ceremony, PS International Project Manager Mr. David Marrow said the joint venture investment would contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector in Zambia.
In turn Freshpikt Limited Chairperson, Mr. Chance Kabaghe noted that the investment deal would help Freshpikt increase its production of tomato paste by creating employment opportunities for the local people whose majority of the raw materials comes from small-scale farmers.
Meanwhile, the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) later signed a letter of intent with Advanced African Solutions of the United States for a US$250 million investment in the tourism and agricultural sector.
 Another letter of intent was signed with Acrow Corporation of America. The deal is for the design and construction of steel bridges across the country.
Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Andrew Chipwende signed for the Agency while Advanced African Solutions Managing Director, Mr. Chris Helm and Acrow Corporation of America, Director of International Business Development, Paul Sullivan signed on behalf of his firm.
Next was the Zambia Honey Council that signed an agreement with a US company, Mann Lake Limited for the provision of the state-of-the-art equipment for honey processing in the country.
Mann Lake is the largest manufacturer of honey processing and bee keeping in the United States of America.
Lastly, the United States African Development Foundation (USADF)   alongside senior Zambian government officials and private sector participants also signed a USADF commitment worth hundreds of dollars in the agricultural sector.
USADF President and CEO, Mr. Lloyd Pierson committed US$300,000 in grants for two Zambian agricultural businesses, the Zambezi Organic Rice Growers Association (ZORGA) and the Chipepo Fisheries Company.
Both Chairmen of ZORGA and the Chipepo Fisheries Company respectively welcomed the investment and said it would bolster trade and business growth in rural Zambia.
“We take pride in cultivating local businesses. USDAF invests in people and their ideas for local growth and   expansion,” said Mr. Mukumbuta the Zambia Agribusiness Technical Assistance Centre (ZATAC) Chief Executive Officer.
To mark the conclusion of the 10th AGOA Forum, stakeholders to the meeting  in a Communiqué made available to journalists and read by Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Buleti Nsemukila , the Civil Society Forum called on African countries to expedite regulatory and policy reforms that foster private  sector development, encourage domestic and foreign direct investment.
The stakeholders from the US and 37 AGOA eligible member countries also urged the US private sector to invest in Sub Saharan African countries and to help create demand in the US – African products.
They also called on Sub Sahara African governments to reform their investment policies to encourage both domestic and foreign investment through public private partnerships and manufacturing plants in Africa.
The Communiqué further said AGOA Countries called for the diversification of Imports under the initiative from eligible countries to include products by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from various sectors.
The Civil Society Forum also recommended to the United States of America to facilitate a framework under AGOA foe empowerment of young African business professionals and entrepreneurs through entrepreneurship, skills development, knowledge exchange mentorship and internship programs
They called on Sub Saharan African (SSA) governments to undertake assessment regarding trade and gender, specifically women and gender to provide support to women through skills enhancement and access to finance adding that this will ensure that opportunities for women in trade are maintained.
They further called on the United States government to consider extending the 3rd Fabric provision from 2012 to 2015 and the AGOA provisions beyond the current deadline.
The Civil Society Forum also applauded the US Administration’s recent commitment to working with the US Congress on extending the 3rd Fabric provision to 2015 and urged the US to extend both AGOA deadline and the 3rd Fabric countries provision to 2025.
The 10th AGOA Forum hosted by Zambia is gone but not forgotten. It provided a platform for policy makers, business leaders and the civil society to join forces and plan for the economic revolution of Africa.
The Whitaker Group (TWG),  a premier strategic US consulting firm specialized in creating sustainable prosperity in Africa also attended the 10th AGOA Forum and observed that the 10th AGOA Forum in Lusaka gave ample opportunity for the US and Africa to reflect on how their relationship has changed over the last 11 years.
The opportunity also served as a reminder that the annual AGOA Forum remains one of the few places where African and American stakeholders can exchange ideas on how trade can most effectively support development
Ms Rosa Whitaker, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Whitaker Group (TWG) observed,“ The AGOA Forum reserves time each year to build consensus towards  action and to set the tone for activities over the coming year.
The tone at this year’s Forum increasingly emphasized finding intersections for deeper collaboration among AGOA’s stakeholders.”
In summary, the Zambian Government spent approximately US$2 million to host the AGOA Forum. During this period alone, government facilitated the signing of investment deals worth more than US$100 million through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and the private sector associations.
One would conclude to observe that the focus areas achieved during this meeting include the following:
  1. Political aspects of the AGOA trade preferences
  2. Impending, Expiration of the 3rd Country Fabric
  3. Deepening Regional Integration
  4. Commercial aspects of the AGOA Preferences
  5. And in the Case of Zambia – FDI flows into Zambia
Against this background, a question arises. What should be the next step in the case of Zambia?  Perhaps the following:  
  • Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry through its agencies to work to ensure that the pledged investment during the Forum comes to fruition
  • Strengthen the US-Zambia Bilateral Working Group to ensure that a Bilateral Investment and Trade Agreement is signed between the two countries which will create the necessary framework for attracting future investments.
  • Work with the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in arranging a post AGOA Forum which will create another platform for attracting more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the United States of America to Zambia
The Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Washington DC through the Chair of AGOA, Her Excellency Ambassador Sheila Siwela has already held a Post AGOA Forum  meeting to agree on a number of follow-up issues  with some AGOA Ambassadors and their experts.
The purpose of the meeting held on 21st June, 2011 at the Zambia Embassy was to highlight the successes of the Main AGOA Forum, the Private Sector Forum, the AWEP meeting and among others the African Ministerial Consultative meeting and the Experts and Senior Officials meeting.
Ambassador Siwela also highlighted comments made by the Americans on the success of the Forum, particularly those made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mrs. Siwela stated that the Forum was not an end in itself and that AGOA countries needed to take advantage of the statements made by the Obama Administration particularly on the extension of AGOA beyond 2015 and the 3rd Fabric Provisions beyond 2012
It was for this reason that AGOA countries needed to prod Congress to align the two issues so that they run concurrently.
She also noted the need to persuade congress to address issues of capacity building and restrictive rules of origin which she said were major impediments for most AGOA eligible countries.
“We also need to agree on a timetable and deadlines to meet Congress as well as goals to be achieved before the 2012 Forum to be held in the US,” she added.
As Chair of AGOA, Ambassador Siwela suggested the need to appoint a committee of AGOA Ambassadors that will engage with Congress to follow up on the various recommendations made by the Trade Ministers in Lusaka.
The Committee of AGOA Ambassadors based in Washington DC to engage Congress comprises the African Union, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia.
Having been on the ground in Lusaka to attend and observe the goings on at the 10th AGOA Forum where high level government officials, businessmen and non-governmental leaders from both Africa and the United States of America interacted and dedicated their time to discuss better approaches to trade and investment to both continents, one would say several new developments emerged from this year’s meeting, but each requires some additional thought and attention to take advantage of the underlying opportunities.

The author is Press Secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of Zambia in Washington DC