|Zim, Zambia will successfully host UNWTO General Assembly: President|
|Saturday, 04 August 2012 20:02|
Takunda Maodza recently in Lusaka, Zambia
President Mugabe says he is confident Zimbabwe and Zambia will successfully host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly next year.
The two countries are jointly hosting the premier tourism event in Victoria Falls and Livingstone on 23 August.
Officially opening the 86th edition of the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka yesterday, President Mugabe said the assembly gave the two countries an opportunity to market themselves.
“This is indeed a great opportunity to market our countries to the rest of the world and improve on tourist arrivals,’’ he said.
“I have no doubt that we will successfully host this tourism general assembly which is taking place for only the second time on the African continent.’’
The remarks by the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces put to rest doubts in some quarters on Zimbabwe and Zambia’s ability to cohost the general assembly.
President Mugabe challenged Harare and Lusaka to fully utilise their strategic geographical location in the region to promote economic and infrastructural development.
“Being at the heart of the Southern African region, Zimbabwe and Zambia offer a good location for regionally targeted industrial and infrastructure development projects.
“Opportunities for investors to undertake infrastructure development projects that are critical for industrial development and facilitation of competitive trade are abundant.
“We should move away from the ‘landlocked’ mentality and see opportunities in being actually ‘landlocked’ to connect the whole region and the rest of the world.’’
The President said it was important for the two neighbours to prioritise interrelated infrastructure development projects in transport, communication and energy in order to increase the competitiveness of productive sectors and facilitate trade.
“On this note, the 16th Session of the Zimbabwe/Zambia Joint Permanent Commission which met at the Great Zimbabwe only a week ago made significant strides by signing various Memoranda of Understanding to elevate our bilateral co-operation,’’ he said.
The MoUs covered science and technology as well as small and medium enterprises development.
President Mugabe said the agreements should channel and enhance joint efforts “to build on today’s prosperity for tomorrow’’ while simultaneously promoting new approaches to trade and development.
Zambia is Zimbabwe’s fourth largest trading partner in the Sadc region and the two countries are poised to deepen regional integration.
The volume of trade between Harare and Lusaka rose to US$300 million last year, up from US$220 million in 2010.
Cde Mugabe said the One-Stop-Border-Post established at Chirundu in 2009 under the North-South Corridor Aid for Trade programme had facilitated increased trade between Zimbabwe and Zambia as evidenced by the reduction of crossborder transactions and processing times.
“There is, however, need for us to continue working together closely to fully operationalise, strengthen and address the bottlenecks still resident in this One-Stop-Border-Post,’’ he said.
He applauded the objectives of this year’s Zambian show, which seek to improve agriculture and the living standards of the people.
He said agriculture remained the mainstay of economies in Southern Africa.
“Both our countries should aim to improve the quality of locally produced goods and services and to increase our share in world exports from all sectors of our economies.
“Over-dependence on single export commodities in their raw form is not sustainable, particularly, in the face of volatility in international prices.
“It is, therefore, very important to diversify our economic activities in the agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and service sectors by placing increased emphasis on value addition.’’
The President toured several stands at the exhibition, including those mounted by Zimbabwean companies.
He returned home yesterday afternoon and was welcomed at the Harare International Airport by Vice-President Mujuru and other senior Government officials.
Zimbabwe and Zambia enjoy cordial relations dating back to the liberation struggle.