Upon becoming President, I took an oath to better the lives of the people of Zambia. Not just the lives of those that voted for me, but the lives of each and every person who calls our nation their home. In order to achieve this, I knew that Zambia needed to cooperate more than ever with its international partners and international institutions like the EU. I believe that a better future for Zambia will be a consequence of reaching out the hand of cooperation to our strategic allies and working together in areas of mutual interest.
These relationships must be mutually beneficial and well balanced. It is therefore, encouraging to see that after the 2018 State of the European Union address by President Juncker, that the EU seeks to reinvigorate the EU-Africa partnership on a more equal footing and on a broad range of issues. Africa is more than one issue. It is a diverse, thriving, and vibrant continent. It is rich with the ambitions, innovation and determination of our young people.
My hope is that with a renewed focus on creating this equal partnership between the EU and Africa, that Europe will come to see that Africa has as much to offer Europe, as Europe has to offer African nations like my own. We all need to plan for the future. The world’s resources are limited, and our effective and efficient use of them must be a priority. Zambia is resource and agriculturally rich, and European cooperation and investment in Zambia will help sustain all of our social, economic, and political responsibilities of the future.
Only a few years ago, economic and social change in Africa was minimal. In recent years however, the determination and ambitions of Zambia have heralded great progress in health, the standard of living, education and sustainability. There is still much to do, but with strategic international cooperation, Zambia can, and will, become a middle-income country by 2030. High levels of investment from Europe, America and Asia in commodities and trade, as well as investment in our mutual challenges such as climate change, energy security, and democracy building, have built a solid platform for Zambia’s growth for a generation.
Globalisation means we are all ever-closer neighbours, and our challenges and opportunities are shared. I believe that countries like my own cannot retreat into an isolated corner of the past, but instead, need to seize this moment and all the opportunities that globalisation has to offer. Globalisation can revitalise our growth, fulfil our potential and transform the lives of all our citizens in the process.
My priority has always been to ensure that progress and prosperity are inclusive, and deliver wide reaching benefits for achieving peace, security and stability within both the African continent and the wider world around us. I believe this is something that Europe and African nations have in common.
In a recent visit to Japan, I met with Prime Minister Abe who had just signed the EU-Japan economic partnership agreement. It highlighted that there is still a strong global network of countries with shared values, shared goals, and true cooperation, on the principles of equality and rules-based trade. Looking around the world, it sometimes feels like there is a shrinking space for freedom and democracy, and for the values we hold dear. That is why like-minded countries from every corner of the world must come together to champion the principles of freedom, fairness and democracy within its economic and trading partnerships. This is why Europe should ensure that it does not neglect Africa either economically or politically.
The EU is a partner we want to strengthen our relationship with, but in order to achieve this the EU must take seriously its new commitment to strengthen our ties. Zambia already cooperates with countries such as Germany and Italy and the United States on issues related to health, mining, the environment, agriculture and technology. I want this network to grow, and I want our shared political agenda to provide solutions to the big challenges we all share. I am proud to stand side by side with partners like the European Union, and I hope that we can continue to work together to shape the world in a positive way.