New Zambian President’s visit to US creates opportunity to strengthen bilateral ties – InsideSources
President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia
Despite the travel limitations of COVID-19, I was able to travel across Africa for a period of five weeks this summer. My visits included meetings with presidents, ministers, American ambassadors, politicians, prominent businessmen and women, attending church and dining with ordinary citizens. It was an enlightening tour.
I have been working in Africa for over 10 years, and for the first time, I feel a radical change in the attitude of African governments and peoples. For decades, more than $ 3 trillion in development finance has flowed to the continent, and for the first time I hear people asking, “What good has it been?” The old practice of top-down development has not established sustainable economic growth, and people are ultimately questioning its value.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Zambia, where the old guard was removed from office in August 2021 and replaced by the opposition candidate. This is important because it is one of the 17 opposition victories in sub-Saharan Africa since 2015, a real sign that democracy is on the move. More importantly, peaceful transitions have prevailed, for the most part, replacing the often violent coups d’état initiated by military or armed rebel groups that are so common in Africa.
Newly-elected President of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, described as an “inspiration” to African opposition leaders, represents a crucial step in demonstrating the country’s democratic heritage that began with the election of Kenneth Kaunda in 1968 after the country’s independence. Votes for democratically elected presidents took place in 1991 and 2011. President Hichilema was previously a historic member of the opposition who was arrested, jailed for four months, and ran for president five times before finally finally coming forward. bringing home victory. Besides his political and business acumen, he brings with him key members of his government, such as Situmbeko Musokotwane, an international economist experienced as Minister of Finance, who represents a real hope for the local population, for the Zambian economy and the country’s relations. with partners and international business institutions.
While the most recent developments have been widely described by other experts – including Zambia’s poor economic and financial situations, IMF discussions, and the current state of the mining sector – Hichilema must work with external actors to secure the necessary financial support. to respond to the discontent of the Zambian people who won their recent election.
Hichilema’s visit to this country gives him the opportunity to develop Zambia’s economic partnership with the United States and to attract private sector investment, a crucial step if Zambia is to counter growing Chinese influence in the country. Influence, which has fueled resentment against further development by the Chinese which not only poses a threat to the country’s independence, but motivates the desire to establish lasting relationships with American companies to improve the Zambian economy.
To do this, Hechilema and his government must do what other prosperous African countries are doing: streamline the processes by which American businesses can establish themselves in Zambia and make future transactions and exchanges transparent. It must also provide a secure, stable and solid political and business environment on which investors can rely. In return, US companies will help create the infrastructure for Zambians to take control of their destiny and future from the bottom up, unlike the extractive imperialism practiced by the Chinese which only pays to play top to bottom. low.
He can kick-start this transformative process by pushing forward the much-vaunted but unresolved IMF deal. This crucial step will give Hakainde Hichilema the political capital to implement key structural measures, including ensuring the reliability of the country or securing funding for social protection programs that will bring much needed relief to the local population.
Zambia undoubtedly has the potential to resolve its economic and financial situation through the election of Hichilema. His visit to the United Nations General Assembly, where he will meet for the first time with key international leaders, must not be missed. As one realizes across Africa, the chance for a Zambian political renaissance and economic recovery is now. It is time to focus on bottom-up sustainability and political engagement and put aside the corrupt and opaque top-down practices of the past. On my next visit to Africa, I can’t wait to visit Zambia, or maybe I could just make my first visit to New York this week? And, no, I haven’t fallen with COVID.