SADC


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By Michael Malakata , IDG News Service , 04/02/2008

The Zambia Telecommunications company (Zamtel) has completed the construction of a fiber-optic network that will be connected to countries in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Company Managing Director Simon Tembo said the construction of the Lusaka Metropolitan Optic Fibre Cable has been completed and will provide broadband connectivity services in Zambia and the region.
The cable, built for US$48 million, will be connected to international cables running under the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Sudan and Europe.

Zamtel is a government-run telco that operates a sister mobile communications company, Cellz.

The SADC region has 14 countries including Angola, Malawi, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia.

“The cable will provide business houses, government ministries and embassies with broadband connectivity for broadband services,” Tembo said Tuesday.

The cable is expected to bring down the cost of telecommunications in Zambia and regional countries, Tembo said, and will be operational by the end of this month.

The country’s Copperbelt Province Minister Mwansa Mbulakulima said the Democratic Republic of Congo government is already planning to link Zamtel’s cable to the Vodacom telecommunications network in the nation.

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LUSAKA (Reuters) – Zambian security forces are on alert as the country watches the situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe where delayed election results have raised concern about violence.

Defence Minister George Mpombo said the situation in Zimbabwe was worrying although he ruled out immediate post-election violence similar to that in Kenya after a December 27 vote.

“So far the situation in Zimbabwe does not present immediate security risks, but our security is on the usual alert at the moment and we are monitoring the situation closely,” Mpombo told Reuters.

He said there was concern that violence could break out after Zimbabwe announced the result of the election.

“The concern is if there is violence there, we would definitely be affected as a neighbour and we hope they will manage the situation properly,” Mpombo said.

Zambia holds the chairmanship of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), which the west accuses of being too soft on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa described Zimbabwe as a “sinking Titanic” last year before quickly softening his stance after he faced isolation by other SADC leaders.

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Map of Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique

Heavy rains in the Zambezi valley have flooded four countries

Zambia has declared the floods sweeping through the country “a national disaster”.

The authorities have closed schools, converting them into shelters for thousands of displaced people.

President Levy Mwanawasa, in a television address, said a concerted effort was needed by the whole country to deal with the crisis.

More than 40 people have been killed in the region, and roads, crops and livestock destroyed.

Neighbouring Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi have also been affected by heavy rains for several weeks, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks.

On Thursday, President Mwanawasa visited some of the worst affected areas.

“This is a national disaster and it requires concerted efforts of all of us to solve,” Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said on state television.

The government’s Disaster Management Unit and the Red Cross have set up a $250m contingency fund to be used to acquire emergency shelters, such as tents, and food kits.

Source: BBC World News

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LUSAKA (AFP) — Zambia’s international reserves hit over a billion dollars this year, the highest figure in the country’s history, the central bank governor announced on Saturday.
Caleb Fundanga said Zambia had recorded 1.1 billion dollars in foreign reserves up from 706 million dollars that the country accumulated in 2006.

“Zambia has continued to record favourable external sector performance resulting in an accumulation of gross international reserves of 1.1 billion in December 2007,” Fundanga said in a statement.

“This is the highest the country has ever accumulated,” he added.

He said Zambia’s economy is expected to grow by 6.2 percent in 2008, while the country’s inflation will remain at the single-digit level.

“The overriding objective of monetary policy in 2008 is to consolidate the gains made in establishing price stability by achieving a third consecutive year of single-digit inflation,” Fundanga said.

Zambia’s inflation rate stands at 8.9 percent.

He said the country will face major challenges next year due to the projected rise in prices of petroleum products at the international market and the higher electricity tariffs in the southern African region.

Copyright © 2007 AFP

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lpm.jpgLUSAKA (AFP) — Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has urged the British prime minister to continue speaking out against Zimbabwe until a solution is found to the country’s crises, media reported Sunday.

Mwanawasa, who heads the southern African regional bloc SADC, welcomed the pressure Gordon Brown was putting on Harare but expressed disappointment at his boycott of next weekend’s EU-Africa summit in Portugal, reports said.

The British premier has said he would not attend the meeting if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is there.

“I have said the nation faces a lot of challenges. Now, he (Brown) shouldn’t get tired of speaking and he must continue until the harvest (of his efforts),” privately-owned The Sunday Post newspaper quoted Mwanawasa as saying.

“I appeal to Brown and the entire British nation that they should continue with their efforts until the situation in Zimbabwe has been resolved,” he was quoted as telling reporters on Saturday in Lusaka.

State-owned newspapers such as The Sunday Mail and The Sunday Times also reported the story. “Do not give up on Zimbabwe”, wrote the Mail’s headline.

Zimbabwe is currently in the throes of an economic crisis.

sadcmap.jpgIt has the world’s highest rate of inflation — about 8,000 percent — while four in every five people are unemployed and 80 percent of the population live below the poverty threshold.

Mwanawasa, who spoke as he was leaving for Germany, en route to Portugal for the summit, welcomed the fact that Brown has agreed to send a representative to the Lisbon meeting.

The Zambian leader, who heads the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), once likened the situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe to that of a ‘sinking titanic’ where citizens were jumping out to seek refuge in other countries.

Copyright © 2007 AFP. All rights reserved

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President Mwanawasa says Portugal which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), has assured him that all African leaders are invited to the EU-African Union (AU) summit.

Dr. Mwanawasa who is also SADC Chairman, has appealed to British Prime Minister, Golden Brown to attend the summit if Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe is invited.

He said as a former colonising empire of most African countries, Britain must reconsider its stance to boycott the summit if Mr. Mugabe attends.

The President said all SADC heads of state and government are happy that Mr. Mugabe has been invited and are all willing to attend as long as Mr. Mugabe will be in Lisbon.

Dr. Mwanawasa was speaking at Lusaka International Airport, Tuesday upon arrival from New York where he had gone to attend the UN General Assembly.

Many African leaders, who want President Mugabe to attend the summit to help tackle his country’s problem, say they will boycott the summit if he is barred.

Mr. Brown said neither he nor any senior member of his government would attend the summit alongside, Mr. Mugabe.

At a news conference in London, Mr. Brown reiterated his determination to boycott the first European Union Africa Union summit in seven years, on account of Mr. Mugabe.

This is on account of accusations among them, Mr. Mugabe’s poor, human rights record, election rigging and the Land issue..

Mr. Mugabe blames Western powers for the economic crisis and accuses them – and former colonial ruler Britain in particular – of plotting with the opposition to oust him.

Currently he is subject to a European Union travel ban but that could be suspended to allow him to attend the December meeting.

Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa arrived home, Monday from a successful visit to the U.S and Britain.

The President arrived aboard a British Airways plane at Lusaka International Airport.

He was met on arrival by Vice President, Rupiah Banda, Cabinet Ministers, Senior government officials and Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) party members.

The President was in New York to attend the 62nd
session of the United Nations General Assembly.

While there, he participated in high level meetings on climate change and called on developed countries to do more about their industrial emissions.

President Mwanawasa who also attended the General Assembly as SADC Chairman, was the First among African Presidents to address the Assembly.

While in the US, President Mwanawasa also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Law at the Harding University in Arkansa, Little Rock.

He was honoured for his exemplary contributions to the development of Laws in Zambia as well as in the areas of democracy.

In London, President Mwanawasa addressed a business meeting organized by the Duetche Bank, where he encouraged potential investors to invest in Zambia.

Source: ZNBC

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September 30th, 2007 

By Momar Visaya/Asianjournal.com  

NEW YORK — World leaders, CEOs, celebrities and scholars gathered for the opening of the third annual Clinton Global Initiative conference. 

Former President Bill Clinton welcomed the participants from 72 countries and the 52 current and former heads of States who made their way across town from the UN General Assembly. “We are faced with problems that the government is not solving, or the government cannot solve alone,” Clinton said. 

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former US Vice President Al Gore led the opening plenary. They were joined by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Walmart President and CEO H. Lee Scott, Jr., Archbishop Emeritus and spiritual leader Desmond Tutu and The World Bank Group President Robert Zeellick. 

Clinton introduced the opening plenary panelists, and prefaced his introduction of President Arroyo. He proudly announced that Arroyo was an old friend and a college classmate at Georgetown University. “We’ve been friends for a long, long time,” Clinton said of Arroyo, “and her country’s economy is on the way up and it’s in a very good shape.” 

The former US president also acknowledged the fact that the Philippines “had its fair share of internal conflict brought about by differences in ideology and religion” and asked Arroyo how her government is trying to promote reconciliation in the country. 

“We have developed a paradigm for peace in Mindanao using both soft and hard power,” Arroyo remarked. Soft power, she explained, is about development, while hard power focused on military efforts to attain peace. 

“We do it through interfaith dialogues to promote lasting peace and political stability in our country,” Arroyo said, and explained that her government has been exerting efforts to deepen understanding among various faiths and cultures particularly in parts of Mindanao. 

The annual meeting is the epicenter for global philanthropy and the forum for people who want to get involved and to make a difference. “We’re here because the world is bedeviled by growing inequality. We’re here because we accept our shared responsibility for correcting our problems and we’re here because we believe we can make a difference,” Clinton said. 

The conference is focused on finding ways to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems such as lack of education, poverty alleviation, global health, energy and climate change. Among the notable attendees were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, tennis star Andre Agassi and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. 

Former Vice President Gore brought in more passion to the plenary by sharing his thoughts and ideas about how the world needs more action, rather than talk. “The US has to lead the world in solving this climate crisis and I challenge President Bush to take that step,” Gore said, “The effort to solve the climate crisis is the key to solving other problems.” 

On the other hand, Archbishop Desmond Tutu brought in the lighter side, nonetheless thought-provoking. “Someone in San Francisco approached me and said, ‘Archbishop Mandela!’,” he said laughing, “two for the price of one.” 

Clinton introduced Tutu, saying that he had one of the best one-liners at the conference last year. The archbishop likened religion to a knife. “You can use it to slice bread, which is good, or you can also use it to slice off your neighbor’s arm, which is bad,” he said. 

Arroyo said that terrorists use religion to cause warfare and that something must be done in order to promote more understanding. President Karzai summed it up, saying that it is the “misuse of religion for political purposes that creates the problems.”

In her closing remark, Arroyo thanked Clinton for the opportunity to share to the world that the Philippines had a 7.5% growth rate in the last quarter. 

The last remark, from Desmond Tutu, capped the opening plenary. “How about us helping God realize His utopian dream? God dreams that we could all live in harmony as members of one family – the gays, the lesbians, the so-called straight…,” he said, as he was cut-off by a thunderous applause, and as the camera panned to Clinton, the former president remarked smiling, “It’s up right there with the knife comment.”  

Meanwhile, according to Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Dr. Mwanawasa urged countries in the west to redeem themselves before criticizing China for giving more aid to Africa.

Speaking when he answered questions from members of staff of the Clinton Global Initiative, the president said governments in the west were often reluctant to finance development projects in Africa. 

Dr. Mwanawasa said Africa and Zambia in particular is in a hurry to develop and China has come out a dependable partner. The President said very soon, China will embark on a $900 million economic zone project on the Copperbelt where over 60,000 people will be employed.  

The president said also said those wishing to help the country develop are most welcome. On the Zimbawean question, Dr. Mwanawasa reiterated that if Mr Robert Mugabe is not invited to the EU/Africa summit scheduled for Portugal in December, then the whole SADC region will not attend.  

He said the SADC member states strongly feel that isolating Mr. Mugabe was not the answer. Dr. Mwanawasa, who is also the SADC chairman, said the leaders in the region were well resolved to continue engaging Mr. Mugabe in dialogue rather than isolating him as the west would rather do.    

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