Zambia’s President, Hakainde Hichilema, is expected to attend the 36th ordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from February 18th to 19th. This meeting is the highest decision-making body for the continent and brings together all African Heads of State and Government and Heads of various institutions in one place.
President Hichilema’s attendance at this summit is strategic for Zambia’s economic growth. The country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Stanley Kakubo, stated that the President’s participation in meetings such as the African Union Summit presents an opportunity for Zambia to not only advance and protect her interests at the continental level but also to participate in decision-making processes in key areas such as regional integration, peace and security, good governance, food security, and nutrition.
This is President Hichilema’s first time attending the African Union Summit since his inauguration in August 2021. Since assuming office, he has made it his priority to restore confidence in the global community and attract more investment to grow the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). By spending 70 percent of his time in the country, President Hichilema aims to resolve rigidities that are taking too long to attract investment.
Zambia, like many African countries, has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country’s economy has been struggling for some time. The President’s attendance at the African Union Summit is an opportunity for Zambia to network with relevant players in the developmental discourse and to contribute to decision-making processes that will shape the future of the African continent.
The upcoming summit will focus on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This agreement, which came into force in January 2021, aims to create a single market for goods and services across the African continent. The AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade, create jobs, and promote economic growth.
Zambia is one of the countries that has ratified the AfCFTA, and the President’s attendance at the summit will provide an opportunity for the country to explore ways to leverage opportunities accorded by the single African market for the betterment of the people, while at the same time contributing to deepening economic integration, industrialization, and structural economic transformation.
The President’s participation in the summit is not only important for Zambia’s economic growth but also for the country’s political stability. President Hichilema won the August 2021 presidential elections in a landslide victory, defeating incumbent President Edgar Lungu. His election marked the country’s third peaceful transfer of power since the end of the one-party state in 1991.
The new government has promised to restore good governance, fight corruption, and promote economic growth. The President’s participation in the African Union Summit is a demonstration of Zambia’s commitment to regional integration, economic growth, and good governance.
The African Union Summit is also an opportunity for African leaders to discuss issues affecting the continent, such as conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the African Union Commission, the theme for the 36th ordinary session of the Assembly is “Building a resilient and sustainable post-COVID-19 African economy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the African continent, and the summit provides an opportunity for leaders to discuss ways to mitigate its effects. The pandemic has highlighted the need for African countries to invest in their health systems, create jobs, and promote economic growth. The AfCFTA is seen as one of the solutions to the economic challenges faced by the continent.
President Hakainde Hichilema’s attendance at the African Union Summit is a critical step towards Zambia’s economic recovery and political stability. It presents an opportunity for the country to participate in decision-making processes at the continental level and contribute to shaping the future of the African continent. The summit’s focus on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is particularly important for Zambia, a country that has ratified the agreement and is seeking to leverage opportunities accorded by the single African market for economic growth. The summit’s theme of building a resilient and sustainable post-COVID-19 African economy is also relevant to Zambia, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Overall, President Hichilema’s participation in the summit demonstrates Zambia’s commitment to regional integration, economic growth, and good governance, and it is expected to yield positive results for the country’s future.