By Jeff Kapembwa
Lusaka - There is a need for expeditious execution of programmes and agreements signed between Zambia and Angola to enhance bilateral relationship existing between the two countries, Zambian President, Edgar Lungu, has said.
Zambia and Angola have in recent years signed various bilateral agreements to foster mutual benefit for the two neighbours. These include the US$5 billion agreement on oil and gas in which the two countries could enhance relations and defray import expenses for the former.
Speaking in Lusaka on Monday when Angola Ambassador to Zambia, Azevedo Xavier Francisco, paid a courtesy call on him, Lungu noted that despite several agreements having been signed, a few have been effectively implemented hence the call for their implementation to benefit the two countries.
“Thank you for coming, and what you have said I can sum it up in one word ‘implementation’. Some deals have been signed, ceremonies have been held but what we need to work on is implementation,” he said.
“Of course, we have done some implementation but not much. With the road from Shangombo district in Western Province into Angola, we have not done enough. With your coming, l think that we will implement as much as possible,” said Lungu.
He was optimistic that with the coming of the new ambassador, efforts will be stepped up to ensure the implementation of the many unfinished deals.
Ambassador Francisco commended Zambia for its unwavering friendship, saying both Zambia and Angola have potential to develop.
“This meeting is to make our agreement of cooperation between our two countries. Both countries have identified potentiality. We are neighbours, our people speak the same language and we need to corporate more,” he said.
Angola has potential in areas such as petroleum, mineral resources, rail and road infrastructure, fisheries and health. In 2018, Zambian and Angola signed a Memorandum of Understanding on trade in oil and gas worth US$ 5 billion. The agreement was intended to assist Zambia reduce costs incurred in excess of US$1 billion in imports of petroleum products annually.
The agreement signed by Mathew Nkhuwa, Zambia’s Energy Minister, and his Angolan counterpart, Diamantino Azevedo, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Petroleum, sought to ensure that the former benefitted from the oil rich country’s natural resource and defray costs incurred in the petroleum import bills.
Nkhuwa told The Southern Times in Lusaka last year that Zambia was spending over US$1 billion annually on importation of petroleum products into the country and the construction of the oil pipeline was expected to ease the burden experienced by the Southern African state.
The MoU would enable the two neighbours to start discussions on the implementation of the whole pipeline project from Angola to Zambia, which if concluded, could be finalised within two years.
A team of technocrats, expected in Zambia soon, would devise various formalities, including tendering and securing a contractor, how the whole pipeline would be undertaken, shareholding structure and other modalities as the project will be private sector funded.
Zambia’s objective was to ensure the cost of the product was reduced, as currently the country is forced to adjust prices whenever the international oil market experiences turbulence. Zambia’s retail pricing of petroleum averages ZMW17/litre (US$1.40) while diesel fetches ZMK15 (US$1.20) per litre.
Zambia desires to lower the prices of fuel in the country and sourcing the commodity from nearer oil-rich countries like Angola was one of the reasons to put up a pipeline and the country has expressed commitment to ensure that it comes on stream soon, probably in two years.
During the signing of the agreement, Azevedo disclosed that the MoU, with a desk study value of US$5 billion, was the first step undertaken by the two countries in achieving Angola’s goal to contribute to the economies of neighbouring countries.
The MoU opened the way for Angolan companies to start the implementation of trade in oil and gas between the two countries. Meanwhile, reports from Angola, citing Azevedo, said the MoU established the basis for cooperation in the oil and gas sector.
Zambia has already indicated the value in a preliminary phase of studies, with Angola having only established the conditions to start discussing the project, said Azevedo. The pipeline will see enhanced trade in oil, the development of petroleum refinery infrastructure and capacity building in Zambia.