By Kennedy Mupeseni –
AN economist has tipped businesses on how to drive more benefits from events as the country prepares to host the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) and the 4th Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (MYCM) of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECS) next month.
The high-level meeting, which will be held at the recently built and commissioned S$65 million Kenneth Kaunda wing of Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka from July 4 to 17, 2022 is expected to attract a total of 14 Heads of State and over 8,000 foreign delegates.
The meeting will focus on the status of regional integration, while the 55-member Executive Council will meet prior to the Mid-Year Coordination Meeting to prepare documentation and also discuss the budget of the Union for 2023.
Economic Association of Zambia (EAZ) Copperbelt chapter chairperson Mathews Muyembe says hotels, lodges; logistics, food and beverage players should up their game and provide world class services.
“There is expected boost in business for hotel and catering ,food and beverages as well as logistic industries to mention but a few; my expectations are that players in the economy are readying themselves to provide world class services to the visitors as they start trickling in for the summit ,” he says.
Mr Muyembe adds that he would like to see most of the impediments to the growth of the hotel and catering industry get resolved.
“The government should intervene in the hotel and catering industry like it has done with the mining sector, we need to restructure the regulatory environment for the hotel and catering, there is too much licensing. Hotels and lodges pay levies to the council, tourism levy and a number of other license fees which make the local industry uncompetitive,” he observes
The EAZ Copperbelt chapter chief describes the upcoming AU event, as one in a life time, hence the need for businesses to prepare themselves adequately and seize the opportunities to raise income.
The AU summit is also good for economic diplomacy.
“Economic diplomacy is the way to go, we cannot do anything in isolation, we need to interact and exchange ideas on how to grow our economies at continental and regional levels. So this is the time to market our countries,” he states.
Mr Muyembe says Africa needs to unite and chart the way forward on its huge natural resource potential to benefit the continent.
He says local oriented solutions are needed to make the continent’s economy more vibrant.
The Mid-Year Coordination Meeting brings together the bureau of the Assembly of the AU, the Regional Economic Communities, the AU Commission and the Regional Mechanisms.
It is associated with the institutional reforms of the AU, particularly the pillar on managing the business of the Union efficiently and effectively, at both political and operational levels and was instituted by an Assembly decision in 2017, and the first such meeting held in July 2019 in Niamey, Niger.
Recently, an AU Commission delegation, led by the AU Commission’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ambassador Tordeta Ratebaye in the country to engage with Zambian officials on areas such as: COVID-19 regulations, facilities, legal, protocol, security, communication and publicity, information systems, and procurement.
As the secretariat of the AU, the Commission works closely with member states and the Zambian Government says it is ready to host the summit.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Stanley Kakubo indicated recently that the government is committed to ensuring that Zambia successfully hosts the 4th Africa Union Mid-Year Coordinating meeting slated for July 14 to 17, 2022.
Mr Kakubo says the successful hosting of the event will greatly contribute to uplifting the country’s image on the international map and that President Hakainde Hichilema has constituted an organizing committee of Cabinet ministers to spearhead the hosting of the event.
“Our President Mr Hichilema has constituted an organising committee composed of Cabinet ministers chaired by myself, Minister of Foreign affairs and International Cooperation and deputised by the Minister of Tourism and Arts,” he explains.
The hosting of the summit is an opportunity for the country to showcase its hospitality and readiness to receive high-level delegations.
“The President is extremely committed to hosting the summit as it gives an opportunity for Zambia to showcase our hospitality and our readiness to receive high-level delegations, and I want to appeal to the private sector to work closely with the government in ensuring that the upcoming summit is a success.
“Government remains committed to working with you in the private sector as you are our key strategic partners and other stakeholders such as the civil society,” he says.
Mr Kakubo further calls on the private sector to consider supplementing government efforts in meeting some of the budget requirements for the successful hosting of the summit.
“My further appeal to the private sector is for you to consider sponsoring some of the budget outcomes that we shall incur. Benefits to be accrued from the summit will include boosting tourism and uplifting of the country’s image,” adds the Foreign Affairs minister.