PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping yesterday held bilateral talks which culminated into the Zambia securing US$130 million, part of which will be invested in the construction of communication towers across the country.
Mr Lungu and Mr Jinping yesterday signed two bilateral agreements which saw Zambia secure US$65 million and US$70 million under the framework for concession of loans and grants.
The US$65 million would be invested into the construction of communication towers under the Zambia Information, Communication and Technology Authority.
Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda signed both agreements on behalf of Zambia while Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hu Cheng signed on behalf of his Government at a ceremony held at the Great Wall of the People of China.
President Lungu paid tribute to the Chinese Government for its continued support to Zambia in many social and economic sectors as well as the political agenda.
He told Mr Jinping that Zambia’s agriculture sector was growing and asked the Chinese Government to consider constructing maize solar milling plants in each of the country’s ten provinces to easy the economic hardships Zambians were facing.
“Zambia and China have been enjoying warm bilateral relationships for a long time. Since independence, the diplomatic ties between Zambia and China have been growing and the signing of the two bilateral agreements today (yesterday) is a sign that our relationship have continued to grow from strength to strength. We would like you to consider establishing maize solar milling plants in all of our ten provinces because that would be a sure way of reducing the cost of mealie meal, our staple food,” President Lungu said.
The President said he was not happy that the price of mealie in the country had remained high and almost unaffordable to most families when the country had over the years been producing bumper harvests without citizens benefiting.
“It is because of the high prices of mealie meal and the suffering of the people that I intend to roll out a presidential initiative that would see the construction of milling plants across the country with the hope of reducing the price of staple food to affordable levels for all Zambians. We have already started ourselves using the Zambia National Service (ZNS) in our quest to set up milling plants,” the President said.
And Mr Xi said he desired forming a tripartite think-tank between Zambia, Tanzania and China that would explore ways of revamping the Zambia Tanzania Railway (TAZARA) which currently was in serious operational and financial challenges.
Presidential aide Amos Chanda told journalists that President Lungu and President Xi were satisfied with the outcome of their bilateral meetings.
After the talks and signing of the two bilateral agreements, a State banquet was held in honour of President Lungu who toady is expected in Shenzen where he would tour ZTE and Huawei.
Meanwhile, President Lungu is saddened by reports that some Zambians living with HIV/AIDS in China had become victims of discrimination and stigmatisation and were being sent back home allegedly on account of their status.
The Head of State assured Zambians living in the Diaspora of Government’s commitment in addressing various challenges they were facing.
President Lungu yesterday met Zambian community in China and told them that he was aware of unpleasant reports that some Zambians living with HIV/AIDS in China were allegedly being sent back home.
“I have already been told by the ambassador that there are incidences which are ugly in nature like deporting Zambians being found HIV/AIDS
positive,” President Lungu said.
He said assured the Zambian community living in China that he was actively pursuing the matters because it bordered on the welfare of Zambians in the Diaspora and had since raised the concerns with the relevant authorities here.