By Mildred Katongo –
EUROPE has endorsed Zambia as a vibrant investment destination following the opening of the European Investment Bank (EIB) country office in the country.
The EIB is also in the process of arranging a blended finance package comprising loans and grants to Zambia of Euro 320 million for this year which Finance Minister Felix Mutati says Zambia is happy to accept because it is not afraid of money as it has prudent fiscal measures in place.
He said yesterday that the EIB’s decision to set up a country office in Zambia was a clear endorsement of Europe that the country was one of the best investment destinations in Africa.
This is contained in a statement released by Ministry of Finance spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta.
“The plan to set up a country office in Zambia by a Triple A (AAA) credit rated organisation like the EIB, whose board of governors ise Finance Ministers in the entire European Union, means the international community is steadily appreciating the Government’s steps for the economic recovery and stabilisation programme, Zambia-Plus,” Mr Mutati told members of his senior management team at the
Ministry of Finance when he shared a report on his recent trip to Europe.
For 2017, the EIB was in the process of finalising finances for several projects, including an investment grant of Euro 45 million blended with a loan of Euro 110million for the rehabilitation of the Great North Road, investment grant of Euro 40 million for the Kenya-Tanzania-Zambia Interconnector.
Others were the investment grant of Euro 65 million blended with a loan of Euro 15 million for the Lusaka Power Transmission and Distribution Network, and another investment grant of Euro 15million blended with a loan of Euro 15million for aquaculture.
Mr Mutati said the Government welcomed the EIB, because it was not afraid of money and that the fiscal prudence and economic-governance measures, which were in place needed to be sustained so that there was a quality investment flow into Zambia, to meet job creation and reduce poverty
Mr Mutati also said the coming of EIB to Zambia would improve the credit-rating benchmark for the financial sector.
He assured his team and urged them to be on high alert so that all economic fundamentals continued to move in the right direction.
During the Zambia EIB Seminar on EIB Financing in Sub-Saharan Africa, which was recently held at the EIB headquarters in Luxembourg, Europe, deputy director general, Patrick Walsh disclosed that, due to the growing investment portfolio in Zambia, significant progress would be made in the coming months to establish an office.
Mr Walsh said the operations of the EIB Zambia country office would be targeted at supporting the European Union’s (EU) development agenda, contributing to poverty reduction, and facilitating the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).
The EIB was keen to support programs related to climate action, such as renewable energy, climate adaptation, and projects with a high and sustainable impact on society and the environment.
Zambia would become the sixth country in Africa to host an EIB country office after earlier establishments in South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon.
Mr Mutati was recently on a trip to Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Sweden to strengthen economic cooperation, build alliances, source for investments and mobilise resources for Zambia’s development needs in sectors such as energy, cash-crop agriculture, infrastructure and social welfare. Other projects under the EIB consideration for 2017 were the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) scaling up solar project and the Zambia water for health facility.