President Edgar Lungu’s successful state visit to China early this year that cemented and enhanced bilateral relationship and cooperation has started bearing fruits.
And China under the auspices of the agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation with the Zambian government has donated vehicles, assorted equipment and supplies worth K 18 million to the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said the Forestry sector in the country has the potential to contribute up to 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said government will continue to make appropriate investments into the sector by rationalizing the regulatory framework in order to actualize its potential as major foreign exchange earners.
The Minister of Finance was speaking at the handover ceremony in Lusaka today where he reaffirmed government’s commitment in making the forestry and wildlife sectors key in creating jobs for Zambians.
He said the donation will help enhance government’s diversification programme away from the mining sector which has been the mainstay of the economy but vulnerable to external shocks.
Mr. Chikwanda explained that the tourism and forestry sector offers government an opportunity to move away from the turbulent mining sector in its economic diversification away.
He noted that protection and preservation of wildlife is a key prerequisite for ensuring sustainable tourism development and management.
And Tourism and Arts Minister Jean Kapata said wildlife crime on a global scale is increasingly becoming sophisticated and involves trans-national organized criminal syndicates that are behind illegal wildlife trade valued at about $ 20 billion annually.
Ms. Kapata noted that the demand for wildlife species such as elephant ivory, rhino horn and pangolins amongst others, robs African countries of its heritage and resource that could significantly help Zambia’s mineral dependent economy.
She further noted that the tourism industry in Zambia is wildlife based and tourists come to see wildlife hence the need to conserve it by all means.
Earlier, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming said China has the strictest laws against illegal forest and wildlife product trade in the world and will therefore play an active role on relevant enforcement actions.
Mr. Yang pointed out that from 2013 to 2015, China joined with other countries from Asia, Africa and South America in the operation cobra, prevented and probed more than 850 cases concerning illegal wildlife smuggling.
He noted that China and Zambia have good cooperation in the forest and wildlife protection field as evidenced by the installation of 8 sets of non-intrusive container scanning equipment in different border posts which has improved law enforcement.
And speaking at the same event, Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister, Christabel Ngimbu said the people of the two countries share strong ties that are historical, mutually beneficial and supportive of each other’s aspirations for development.
Mrs. Ngimbu said the equipment will also help her ministry in effective management of forests and wildlife.
China has donated 25 pickup trucks, 40 all-terrain vehicles, 250 motorcycles and 4,915 tents to ZAWA.