PRESIDENT Lungu’s three-day official visit to France has immediately yielded six deals that will see Zambia receive significant investment in the energy, aviation and other sectors.
Following bilateral talks between the President and his counterpart Francois Hollande at Elysee Palace here yesterday, France has promised to, through Airbus, help Zambia establish a national airline.
Zambia, through the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), has also issued a licence for France 24, the European country’s largest broadcasting house, to immediately begin operations in Zambia.
Briefing the media after the bilateral talks between the two leaders, special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda said President Lungu thanked Mr Hollande for the fruitful engagement.
Mr Chanda was speaking at Le Meurice Hotel.
“The President is very thankful to his host, His Excellency President Francois Hollande, for promising to help Zambia set up a national airline through Airbus.
“Mr Hollande said Airbus, one of the largest global aviation companies, will help train Zambian pilots, provide technical support and supply aircraft for the new airline,” he said.
Mr Chanda said Mr Hollande promised Mr Lungu that as soon as the Zambian government is ready, his administration will send technical teams to the southern African nation to begin the process.
He said Mr Hollande has also told President Lungu that his government will mobilise investment in the energy, mining and other sectors.
“The French President has promised the head of State that France is interested to invest in both the traditional hydro and alternative energy with emphasis on solar energy,” Mr Chanda said.
During the talks, a number of agreements were signed covering different sectors.
The agreements are between Zambia and the France Development Agency (AFD), ZNBC and France 24, declaration of intent between the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) and Business France and between the University of Zambia School of Mines and Ecole Supereiere des Mines de Nantes and Telecom Bretagne.
Another deal is between Paris 1 Panthon Sorbonne University and Zambia’s Tourism Training Institute Trust.
Earlier in the day, President Lungu toured the French National Museum of Natural History where Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba signed a memorandum of understanding with the French Ministry of Ecology for co-operation in the conservation of nature and mitigation of climate change.
President Lungu, who witnessed the signing ceremony inside the museum, called for more efforts aimed at preserving nature because climate change is increasingly threatening the human race with extinction.
France’s Minister of Ecology Aigole Royel signed on behalf of her country in the presence of the museum’s president, Bruno David.
Mr Chanda said President Hollande also echoed Pope Francis’ appeal to President Lungu during his visit to the Vatican City last week to help resolve the escalating political instability in Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He said Mr Lungu reported that he is already interceding as he had sent envoys to mediate in the two countries’ conflicts.
Mr Lungu said he was concerned that if the two countries did not resolve their internal political wrangles, it could trigger an influx of refugees into Zambia, which could cause economic and social problems for the country.
He said the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues and pledged to work towards the strengthening of bilateral relations for the benefit of the citizens of the two nations.
President Lungu arrived at the Elysee Palace at 15:00 hours and was received by Mr Hollande.
The French Republican Guard mounted a guard of honour for the President before the two leaders went into the presidential complex for the private talks.
President Lungu attended a welcoming ceremony at the L’Hotel National des Invalides where the French military mounted a guard of honour for him.
He came out at 16:00 hours and headed for Le Meurice Hotel.
President Lungu is today expected to address a business forum to be attended by over 70 prominent French investors.
He later leaves for Lusaka in the afternoon.