Tuesday, November 11th, 2008


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zflag.gifus-flagLusaka, Zambia – Zambian President Rupiah Banda Monday sent a congratulatory message to the president-elect of the US, Barack Obama, on his election.

“I have keenly followed your election campaign and consequently your electoral victory.

“The massive endorsement you have received from the American people has been well received in the rest of the world. As the fourth President of the Republic of Zambia elected on 30th October 2008, I heartily welcome your election as the 44th

President of the US on the occasion of the 44th Anniversary of Zambia’s Independence,” President Banda said in his message here.

“You are a breath of fresh air in the American political landscape and therefore, the rest of the world awaits your positive impact on humanity.”Banda said Zambia was not expecting miracles from Obama but that the country was confident that he would make a significant credible difference to humanity.

“Mr. President, we are ecstatic about your victory not because we expect alms of freebees from your presidency, but because we trust that you are an agent of change for the better of the human race.

“We therefore eagerly await to work with you and to partner with you as we seek common grounds in solving the myriad of problems faced by humanity today and in future.”

Banda wished Obama and his family God’s guidance as he assumes the responsibility of steering US to more prosperity.
 
Lusaka – 10/11/2008

Pana

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By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambia may import up to 100,000 tonnes of white maize to plug a deficit expected in the first quarter of 2009 after experiencing crop failure this year, industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The imports will be the first in over four years when Zambia became a net exporter of white maize, having previously experienced maize deficits due partly to a combination of drought and floods and what industry officials at that time said were poor government agricultural policies.

An industry official told Reuters that the state-run Food Reserve Agency (FRA) only had two months maize cover after Zambia’s total maize output declined to 1.2 million tonnes in the 2006/07 from 1.3 million tonnes in 2007/08 on the back of floods in some parts of the country.

“We are definitely going to import white maize because the FRA only has two months supply which is not adequate to take us to the next harvest (April/May 2009),” the industry source said.

Industry sources said the government had failed to heed warnings by farmers and millers to import maize in June.

“Initially we had estimated that we could need up to 200,000 tonnes but now we project the imports will be between 50,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes of maize,” a miller told Reuters.

Zambia’s agriculture, food and fisheries minister Ben Kapita declined to comment on the matter.

“I have no comment to make on the maize issue just now. We will issue a statement later today (Tuesday),” Kapita told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear how much maize the FRA had in stock after it extended the maize marketing season.

“We will only give out the numbers in a week’s time as we are currently doing the verification exercise,” Mwamba Siame, the FRA spokeswoman told Reuters.

“Unfortunately South Africa has run out of non-GMO (genetically modified) maize because Zimbabwe moved in swiftly to import maize from there and we will have to source the maize elsewhere at very high cost,” the industry source said.

Prices of white ground maize meal, the southern African country’s staple food, have in recent weeks risen to about $16 per 25 kg in some parts of the country from around $10 a few weeks ago, state media reported.

In the last three agricultural seasons, Zambia turned its maize production around and became a net exporter of maize on the back of good rains and a government policy to provide subsidized fertilizers and seed to peasant farmers.

The policy won international praise for the late Zambia President Levy Mwanawasa, who died in France last August after suffering a second stroke.

Mwanawasa was replaced by Rupiah Banda, who won a controversial presidential vote in October after narrowly beating his main opposition rival Michael Sata.

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LUSAKA, 10 November 2008 (IRIN) – The fall in international copper prices is causing unease in Zambia, one of the world’s largest producers, whose impressive economic growth in recent years has been based on copper exports.

Frederick Bantubonse, general manager of the Zambia Chamber of Mines, told IRIN: “It’s causing a lot of concern; we are selling, well and good, but the pricing is not as profitable as we would like it to be. This is not good for the Zambian economy.”

Since the beginning of the credit crunch in the US, copper prices have tumbled from the record highs of nearly US$9,000 per metric tonne between 2005 and 2007, to around $5,000 per tonne, amid concerns that the global economic slowdown will puncture demand. Copper is a key metal in the electronics and building industries.

“We are foreseeing a situation where our mining companies may begin to cut down on further investment programmes because of [making] less money and, ultimately, this may not just affect their profits but even their employment base,” Bob Sichinga, an economist and former MP who served on Zambia’s parliamentary mining committee, told IRIN.

“We now have some mining companies advocating for the cancellation of the new tax regime [introduced by the government this year] because they feel the market is no longer favourable for such taxation, which is very unfortunate for the country.”

Copper accounts for 80 percent of Zambia’s foreign earnings, and has helped drive healthy economic growth of five percent over the last six years. The government had projected additional revenue of $415 million in 2009 after raising the mineral royalty tax from 0.6 percent to the global norm of 3 percent, and the introduction of a windfall tax on mining companies as a result of record copper prices.

Social services

Oliver Saasa, a consultant economics professor at the University of Zambia, said falling copper prices would affect the delivery of social services. “It’s putting a lot of pressure on the new government. As it is now, there is a reduction in government revenue, and also no windfall profit because of the low prices; the windfall tax is only applicable where prices are high,” he commented.

Newly elected President Rupiah Banda is keen to make a positive impression after narrowly winning the 30 October presidential election, in which urban voters in the capital, Lusaka, and the central Copperbelt region, Zambia’s economic heartland, voted overwhelmingly for opposition leader Michael Sata. In his inaugural speech Banda pledged to fight poverty and improve social spending.

“Because of the reduced resource base, government will face problems in social investments for such critical sectors as education and health,” Saasa said. “Already, even before the fall in copper prices became an issue, we had overshot our national budget because of the [October 30] elections.”

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) October survey projected that growth in sub-Saharan Africa was likely to slow to 6 percent in 2008 and 2009, down from 6.5 percent in 2007, but the deceleration in oil imports could be sharper, dropping to 5 percent.

Food and fuel prices are likely to remain substantially above their 2007 levels, the IMF said. This means deeper poverty for households in sub-Saharan Africa, which typically spend about half their income on food. The World Bank has estimated that 44 million people worldwide will fall into poverty in 2008 as a result of price increases.

The prices of key commodities have rocketed over the last three years in Zambia: a 25kg bag of maize-meal now sells for $18.00, up from $11.00 in 2006; a litre of petrol (gasoline) has risen US 75 cents over the same period.

But all is not gloom, according to Mathias Mpande, head of the mining engineering department at the University of Zambia. “The price of around $5,000 per tonne is not very low – it is still four times higher than the all-time average of copper, which is about $1,200 per tonne. In any case, the former prices were very high, and unsustainable because copper is traditionally a cheap product.”

The three-year record copper prices were triggered by strong demand from the fast-industrialising Asian countries, especially China and India, the biggest foreign investors in Zambia’s Copperbelt mining region.

“What we should realise is that this credit crunch has mostly affected the US and the European Union; China and India have not been that much affected. The demand for copper in China and India will not drop and, therefore, prices are slowly going to stabilise, which is why we should not tamper with the new tax regime,” Mpande said.

Kalombo Mwansa, Zambia’s mines minister, said the government was working on policy measures in the event of a long-term price slump. “Our hope is that this fall in copper prices won’t last long, because the whole world is very much united to find a lasting solution to the credit crunch,” he told IRIN.

“But even if it lasts longer than anticipated, government is currently working on measures to ensure there is a steady flow of investment … and that the situation does not ground our economy.”

At its peak in the 1980s, Zambia produced about 750,000 tonnes of finished copper annually, before output dropped to 200,000 tonnes in the 1990s. Current production is around 600,000 tonnes per year, but the government had projected this to rise to one million tonnes by 2010.

nm/he/oa

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Themes: (IRIN) Economy

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By BRIAN KAYAYA

BRAZILIAN President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the manner in which Zambia’s October 30 election was conducted has renewed both regional and international confidence in the country’s future.

President da Silva expressed confidence that under President Banda’s guidance, Zambia would successfully achieve the goals of peace, stability and prosperity.
This is according to a congratulatory message addressed to Mr Banda on his election as Zambia’s fourth President.

The message was released in Lusaka yesterday by special assistant to the President for press and public relation, John Musukuma.

President da Silva said he looked forward to working with President Banda on many issues of common interest to further strengthen the good ties in the context of south-south cooperation.

Botswana President Ian Khama also commended Zambia for conducting the campaigns and elections in an atmosphere of tolerance.

“Zambia is one of the champions of democracy. The manner in which the election campaigns were conducted, in an atmosphere of political tolerance, is commendable,” General Khama said.

President Khama said he looked forward to working with Mr Banda to further strengthen the bonds of friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries and to address the common challenges that face the region and the African continent.

And Nigerian President Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua said he was encouraged by President Banda’s commitment to the fight against corruption as well as ensuring regional stability and economic development.

President Yar’Adua said the task ahead of Mr Banda was enormous but expressed confidence that with courage and perseverance, he would be able to overcome all challenges and deliver the dividends of democracy and good governance to Zambians.

“I wish to congratulate you most sincerely on your election to the exalted office of President of your dear country. Your election is no doubt a reaffirmation of the confidence reposed in your ability to lead the good people of Zambia and take your country to greater heights,” Mr Yar’Adua said.

He said he looked forward to working closely with President Banda in the overall mutual interest of the two nations and Africa as a whole.

Mr Yar’ Adua commended Mr Banda’s desire to govern a united and prosperous Zambia.

Finland President Tarja Halonen wished Mr Banda success in carrying out the important responsibilities of the high office.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba reaffirmed his government’s commitment to further strengthen and consolidate the excellent bilateral relations and cooperation that exist between the two countries.

Lesotho Prime Minister Pakhalita Mosisili assured Mr Banda of his unwavering support and expressed hope that the good relations between the two nations would be further strengthened.

Other congratulatory messages received are from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Former South African President Thabo Mbeki, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya, and Libyan People’s Bureau and Dean of Diplomatic Corps Khalifa Omar Swiexi.

President Banda beat other candidates to become Zambia’s fourth President.

Others in the race were Patriotic Front president, Michael Sata, his United Party for National Development counterpart, Hakainde Hichilema and Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party.

Source: Daily Mail

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By Brenda Zulu

The Zambian government has not done enough to strengthen science and technology education, according to Dr. Dennis Wanchinga, executive director of the National Science and Technology Council, which wishes to undertake an evidence-based assessment of Zambian schools.

“It is the absence of the best basic teaching aids for teaching science that is missing in schools,” Wanchinga said in an interview. “Pupils have never seen the chemical reactions. The laboratories are poorly equipped. We are not teaching much to develop our own local material for teaching science and depend on foreign material.”

While Lewis Mwape, a physics teacher at Matero Girls Secondary School in Lusaka, said the expense of equipment limits classroom experiments, he makes due with what he has.

“As a teacher, I improvise in some experiments, like on the demonstration of a wave in a ripple tank, and have been using the learning channel on DStv for pupils to learn about science and mathematics,” he said.

Zambia has been experiencing a “brain drain” effect, Wanchinga explained, with secondary school science teachers migrating to other countries for better pay.

“With the use of ICTs, there is need for the scientists in the diaspora to be involved in the country’s development by contributing their knowledge through distance learning and the use of e-learning,” he said. “…We need to develop a good network through which schools can utilize ICT, which is becoming an important tool in delivering e-learning in education.”

Currently, 0.2 percent of the national budget is allocated to the Ministry of Science and Technology, which Wanchinga said is not sufficient. However, the Lagos Plan of Action by Heads of State has agreed that the ministry must receive at least 1 percent of national budget funds.

To improve the situation in schools, Zambia needs a strong policy framework anchored by the highest governmental office, Wanchinga said, and training qualified teachers and creating specialized education centers in science and technology must be placed atop the government’s agenda.

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