PRESIDENT Lungu says Zambia is in a hurry to make up for time and development opportunities lost when the country’s ties with Israel were at an ebb.
With Zambia reopening its embassy in Tel Aviv, President Lungu projects an increase in trade with the technologically advanced Israel.
He has encouraged Israeli investors to tap into Zambia’s agriculture, tourism, health, communications, water and energy sectors.
The President said this on Wednesday when he addressed the first-ever Zambia-Israel Business Forum which he urged to provide a platform to “create appetite to invest in Zambia”.
He said “Zambia is in a hurry to cover up on the lost time” as it opened its embassy in Israel only two years ago.
President Lungu said Zambia is happy to continue working with Israel since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1964 despite them being severed at some point.
“I am of the view that the opening of an embassy in Israel will increase volumes of trade,” the head of State said.
President Lungu said the trade volumes which were at US$2.3 million per annum have declined to US$500,000.
He said Government will continue to dialogue with Israel to up the low trade volumes between the two countries.
He said Zambia is one of the most politically stable countries with no record of war since its independence in 1964.
Mr Lungu, who is on a five-day State visit to Israel said Government has created multi-facility economic zones (MFEZ) which have attractive incentives for manufacturing.
“The investors from Israel will enjoy the hospitality of the Zambian people and the country has enough manpower,” he said.
President Lungu said Zambia has a strategic location and is surrounded by eight countries which are member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
He said Israel played a key role in the establishment of the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka and the University of Zambia (UNZA).
President Lungu said Government has embarked on strengthening economic diplomacy with countries such as Israel.
President Lungu has assured Israeli investors that Government will continue creating a conducive environment for foreign investments.
He said the Patriotic Front (PF) administration “has promised Zambians more jobs, lower taxes and more money in people’s pockets which can only be achieved if the private sector flourishes as Government can only employ a few”.
And Minister of Commerce Margaret Mwanakatwe said the Zambia-Israel Business Forum will be a success because President Lungu, “the chief marketing officer of Zambia”, is present in Israel to market Zambia.
Meanwhile, Federation of the Israeli Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Arie Zief said the decision by Israel to improve relationships with Africa is helping to improve business.
Mr Zief said Israel is looking forward to meaningful business dialogue to have more joint ventures.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has invited Odis Filtering of Israel, a company which specialises in water purification and agriculture, to help the country find a better way of providing clean and adequate water for all.
The President said it is unacceptable for any Zambian to drink water from the same source with animals in this era.
He said the country has huge amounts of underground water which runs down to the rivers uncollected.
“The wasted water that runs through the rivers is needed for drinking, industrial use and agriculture,” President Lungu said.
“The advanced technology in Israel can help Zambia have water throughout the year,” he said.