President Yoweri Museveni and his visiting Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu discuss bilateral relations.
By Innocent Anguyo
President Yoweri Museveni and his visiting Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu on Thursday discussed bilateral relations between their countries at State House, Entebbe.
The duo’s talk, heavily laced with emphasis to deepen ties between the two nations, spanned several areas including trade, mining, tourism, diplomacy, education, infrastructure, healthcare, youth empowerment and a need to reignite the spirit of pan-Africanism in the youth.
The first official activity on Lungu’s itinerary, the closed discussion lasted over 40 minutes. The discussion ensued shortly after Lungu’s arrival at Entebbe International Airport at about 4:00pm.
The Zambian leader was received on arrival by Henry Okello-Oryem, Uganda’s state minister for foreign affairs.
Thereafter, Lungu was treated to glitzy state ceremonies- including a Ugandan cultural dance that enthused him to join the energetic dancers to shake-off some jet-lag, and the ritualistic 21-gun salute.
Lungu, who donned a grey long-sleeved Kaunda suit, an attire popularized by the founding president of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda, was joined on his maiden state visit to Uganda by several members of his cabinet including-Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba and Jean Kapata, the Tourism minister.
Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia (L) receives a bouquet of flowers as his host Yoweri Museveni looks on at at State House Entebbe on July 23, 2014. The Zambian leader is in the country on a three-day state visit. PPU Photo
As the sun set, fashioning scenic sights at the shores of Lake Victoria, nearby, at the State House, President Museveni hosted Lungu and his entourage to a state banquet, largely typifying Ugandan culinary.
Lungu is in the country for a three-day visit that will today see him hold another discussion with Uganda’s cabinet. He will equally visit the Kampala-based Quality Chemicals plant, famous for manufacturing Anti-retroviral and anti-malarial drugs.
Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia (L) on arrival at State House Entebbe on July 23, 2014 accompanied by with his host Yoweri Museveni . The Zambian leader had just arrived for a three-day state visit. PPU Photo
Addressing the media on at State House on the sidelines of the bilateral talks between Museveni and Lungu, Okello-Oryem said the visit of the Zambian President was not only meant to cement the time-honored relations between the two countries but to discuss modalities of how to empower the youth as well.
Okello-Oryem noted that, high on the agenda in the discussions between Uganda and Zambia would be the need to accelerate the establishment of foreign missions in each other’s backyard.
Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia inspects a guard of honour by UPDF at State House, Entebbe on July 23, 2014. The Zambian leader had just arrived for a three-day state visit. PPU Photo
A foreign mission to Zambia, Okello-Oryem said would be established within a year, as one of the three Uganda will create in the same time-frame. The other two, the foreign minister revealed would be located in Western Europe and South America where Uganda is yet to establish a foreign mission.
Uganda will also utilize Lungu’s visit to court Zambian expertise on areas such as Tobacco growing, tourism, railway construction and mining, especially in copper- a mineral that is the swivel of Southern African economy.
Zambia expects to tap into Uganda’s expertise on production of coffee, rice, tea and maize which is one of Zambians’ staple foods.
During Lungu’s visit, modalities of a student exchange between Zambian public universities and their Ugandan counterparts will similarly be fine-tuned.
Okello-Oryema announced that, within the realm of the exchange programme, students studying programmes deemed critical to the development of the two countries will go in opposite directions every year.
A jovial Edgar Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia (C) joins traditional dancers as President Museveni looks on bemused at State House Entebbe on July 23, 2014. PPU Photo
The exchange programme will see, at the onset, at least ten students from any of the Ugandan public universities-including Makerere, Gulu, Mbarara, Busitema, Muni, and Kyambogo competitively selected by the ministry of education to study on state scholarship in Zambian public tertiary institution of their choice.
“We want youth in the two countries to share experiences on challenges they face and how to overcome them in the spirit of Pan-Africanism,”said Okello-Oryem.
Nonetheless, Okello-Oryema could not specify the exact time when the exchange programme will kick-off on grounds discussions between Zambia and Uganda tagged to the matter first have to be concluded.
The two countries also want to elevate bilateral trade beyond the current $5m, as estimated by Okello-Oryem.
“Zambia initially asked us to export maize to them but we could not utilize that because of infrastructure challenges. If Zambia could improve the Tazara railway, we could transport our maize from Malaba to Mombasa before transferring it onto the Tazara railway en-route to the Zambian market,” said Oryema.
Other trade-related discussions cover taxation and modalities of how to enhance the operating environment for business in the two countries.
“There are many Ugandan doctors and teachers in Zambia. Most of the MTN telecommunication dealers in Zambia are Ugandans. Ugandans have huge farms in Zambia. Zambians also has huge investments here. We need to help these businesses grow, as we encourage more bilateral investments,” added Oryema.
Lungu’s visit to the Quality Chemicals plant is meant to give him a sneak peek into how anti-retroviral and antimalarial drugs are produced.
Okello-Oryema said since Quality Chemicals is the only such plant in Africa, Lungu’s visit is a fact-finding mission that could see Zambia import a wide range of medicines from the Ugandan factory.
In an interview with the New Vision, Kalaba said they did not only plan to purchase ARVs and antimalarial drugs from Uganda but equally replicate Quality Chemical’s system back home in bid to reinforce Zambia’s resolve to reduce prevalence of HIV and malaria buy producing cheap domestically available medicine.
“Uganda and Zambia have a lot in common, it is high time we cemented our relations. This visit opens the door to many partnerships,” reiterated Kalaba.
Lungu was sworn in as Zambia’s president in January, after overcoming a close political challenge and divisions within his own Patriotic Front party to secure a narrow majority in an election called after the death of his predecessor in October.
Lungu, 58, who headed both the Justice and Defense Ministries in the previous government, will serve out the remainder of President Michael Sata’s term until new elections in the fall of 2016..
Museveni, Zambian President discuss bilateral relations