PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu’s State visit to China early this year drew sharp criticism from the opposition, who viewed the trip was a sheer waste of taxpayers’ money.
The skeptics believed that the pledges made during the Head of State’s State visit were not going to result into real investments.
They described the move as counting chickens before the eggs hatch.
They went on to say that it was unlikely that the business executives the Zambian delegation met in China would invest in Zambia.
Today, however, the story is different as the country has started to witness the fruits of Mr Lungu’s first assignment abroad soon after being elected as President in January.
The President’s visit to China resulted in the signing of investment pledges worth US$1.5 billion.
The figure is even expected to increase once the ministers who accompanied him consolidate their agreements.
The rolling out of the US$200 million Presidential Milling Initiative with the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) on Wednesday is one of the deals President Lungu clinched during his visit to China.
The recently commissioned $52,000 solar powered milling plants in Mbala’s Mpande area also fall under the same initiative.
The solar-powered hammer mills will help to reduce the price of mealie-meal and create over 3,000 jobs for Zambians.
Another spin off from the introduction of solar-powered hammer mills is the coming of other industries around the mill areas to provide various services towards the maintenance of the new equipment.
The solar-powered hammer mills couldn’t have come at a better time than now when the country is experiencing a deficit in power supply because of low water levels at Kariba dam.
Another big investment that is yet to come as a result the President’s State visit is that by a Chinese private company that is expected to set up an oil refinery in Zambia.
The refinery will be based on the Copperbelt to supplement Indeni Petroleum Refinery in Ndola.
Furthermore, we want to encourage people, especially the opposition, to appreciate the importance of Presidential State visits and to understand that deals clinched at that level are as good as policy; what remains is just implementation.
It is indeed gratifying to note that the President’s first visit outside Africa is beginning to bear fruit.
We also wish to welcome the opening of a consulate in Guangzhou in China which has been necessitated by the ever increasing trade between Zambian private companies and their Chinese counterparts.
Apart from facilitating trade between the two countries, the move will also tremendously benefit small scale traders.