(Times of Zambia)-Zambia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for mineral explorations and financial support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The MoUs are part of the Government’s broad plans to reconstruct the economy, create job opportunities and reduce poverty.
UAE Minister of State Shakhboot Al Nahyan signed the two MoUs on behalf of his country while Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Minister Elias Mubanga signed for Zambia.
President Hakainde Hichilema witnessed the ceremony at State House in Lusaka yesterday.
The mineral exploration MoU was between the Zambian Government and the UAE government. The USS IS million worth concessional loan agreement for SMEs was between the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development and the UAE’s Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development.
President Hichilema said the Government was a firm believer in partnerships to achieve its economic developmental agenda and that the UAE was one such key partner. “Part of that reasoning is based on our own agenda to reconstruct the cconomy so that when the economy is fully functional, it’s growing, it can then deliver support to the weak, to the sick, to the children, to the retired, to the old, to the differently-abled, to society as a whole. And to do that, we look to countries that have done well for themselves and their people and your country is one,” President Hichilema said.
Mr Hichilema said the New Dawn Administration wanted to learn from others that had managed to use the natural resources they were endowed with, in partnership with stakeholders with expertise in some areas.
President Hichilema said the UAE had achieved a lot over the years because of fully utilising its resource endowments and partnering with others who shared technology and capital, among others.
“We don’t take time to underscore that experience and that we too would like to pick some lessons out of it and which better way of picking lessons other than working together in partnership in various fields,” he said.
Earlier, Sheikh Al Nahyan said Zambia was also admirable, which was why the UAE government wanted to forge win-win partnerships and be part of President Hichilema’ visionary transformation of the country.
He said Zambia and the UAE had many areas of cooperation which he wanted the two countries to strengthen.
Mr Kabuswe said the MoU would contribute to accelerate the reforms that the mining was undergoing.
“So, this kind of agreement in the mining sector comes at the right time when we are implementing various reforms, including setting up a regulator in the ministry and also formalising artisanal miners and putting a new mining policy in place, which actually speaks to the vision outlined by his Excellency the President in terms of partnering with other people,” Mr Kabuswe said.
Mr Mubanga said his ministry was building the capacity of SMEs and trying to link them to have access to financing.
He said the concessional loan would address a number of things, especially boosting agricultural activitics among small-scale farmers in rural areas.
The Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development would use NATSAVE Bank to disburse the funds to the SMEs.