Interview with Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, Ambassador of Zambia to France
"We’ve enjoyed peace since our independance"
For this Edition of the Voice of the Embassy, 54Etats.com is in the Zambian Embassy in France. Let's introduce you to Mister Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, Ambassador extraordener and plenipotentiary, permanent delegate to Unesco and UNWTO.
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: The first asset that we have as a country is a factor we have never been in a civil war. We’ve enjoyed peace since our independance and this is why we have people coming in. Zambia has been a Haven for people with problems. Now, you need to maintain that peace and stability so that our first part of work. We need to ensure that the democracy is vibrant.
Priscilla Wolmer: with multiparty democracy…
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Exactly, we are a multipartite. We need to ensure that the rule of law and also built a State Institutions that we need for us to have a vibrant society. That’s on the Political side.
On the Economic side, we need to do certain things. First and foremost, we need to protect the Foreign investment. And this is written in the new Constitution which is unprecedented and we also created the right atmosphere, the better environment for people to come and invest. For example, we have the most liberal foreign exchanges regulations.
In Zambia, when you invest, you can externalise all your money without any problems
Priscilla Wolmer: Oh, really?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Yes. So the Government has been creating the enabling environment, in terms of the right policies so that we position ourselves as a country so that you can go to…
Priscilla Wolmer: What are president Lungu and Zambian governments principal goals to achieve a bright economic future?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Well, if you look at our budget for this year (2017), the goal is to have physical fitness so that you have inclusive economic development. Now there is a history to that.
We’ve had a few problems, we know the copper prices.
Priscilla Wolmer: Yes, Yes
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: We are not doing very well. So, we’ve had challenges in terms of the money coming, in since our major receipt come from the copper. And this has ment that you really need to work around our budget. So that we do things according to what we have…
Priscilla Wolmer: Due to scarcity.
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Yes
Priscilla Wolmer: Could Zambia since copper became strategic ressources indigenous final Products manufacturing to achieve potential value added?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Exactly, that’s what we are trying to do. You know for a lot of years, since our independance, all we’ve been doing is just getting the copper and selling it but what we are trying to do is to try an add-value by bringing investment in terms of converting the raw copper into a finish product… Like cables, so that we’been in discussion with some french companies so that they can come and invest because as you know we get more money from a finish product and from the raw and materials.
Priscilla Wolmer: Zambia is closed country so what do you think of South Africa common union on the development of share sea port?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Well, as you know South Africa is part of SADC but we are not part of SACO but because we are a long road country, we do not have a sea. We use South Africa for a transportation of goods. So really, in terms of SADC project, there’s a huge and ambitious infrastructure's project, with the raw, the bridges and the sea port.
Priscilla Wolmer: About green power for electricity, what is your opinion about that?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Green Power… that’s the latest things for us. I give you some history about what has happened in Zambia. The last three, four seasons, we had very law rains and our countrie is predominantely high brow electric so when we had low rains, the river is very low so we could not produce enough electricity. So it go our thinking to not diversify into green energy like solar for example. In fact recently, we had a French company that want the first beat for Solar Energy, for about 1 00 Mega Watts about this taken. For the Wind Energy, there is potential but it’s not as biggest as solar.
In Zambia, we have over 2000 hours of sunlight
Priscilla Wolmer: True
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: … so the potential is huge. But we also have projects, pilots projects on green energy in Zambia.
Priscilla Wolmer: About Health and Education. According to World Food Programme, sixty percent of Zambians still live in poverty. Is that correct?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: It’s not correct. As we know, we are a developping country, we have challenges. But I can assure that our government is putting in place certain policies, majors to deals with that challenges. For example in Health, you may wish to know that there’s an ambitious program to construct about 350 health posts. We are also trying to upgrade the other health facilities that had been there. Over time we didn’t invest in. Also, we’ve just completed the first cancer hospital which will take about 250 beds. People will have state of the heart. There is a lot of machinaries, chimiotherapy and radiotherapy and actually we intent to rought out this in the others parts of the country. So that we can detect a cancer at first stage and prevent what as require.
Priscilla Wolmer: Because, we are in Europe, in your opinion, what are Zambian’s interests in Europe?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: Well, you know our Foreign policy is about economic diplomacy. So, this essentially means that when we interract with someone in Europe, we need to get some economics benefits out of it. Before, we are very political, we know the countries around us, were not Independant. You know like Zimbabwe, South Africa, Mozambique…so we helped in the liberation struggle. So our diplomacy was very political but now it changed. We are saying, look: we are going into a relationship and they has to be some economics benefits for Zambia and that’s the trust of it.
Priscilla Wolmer: And your last word?
Amb. Humphrey Chilu Chibanda: We are happy to be here ad we are here to stay because we think that France is an important partner for us but also in Europe. We see France playing a bigger role in Europe in term of European Union. So we are here to stay.