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Honourable Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry,
High Level Government Officials from various Ministries and Agencies,
Colleagues, Ambassadors of European Union Member States in Zambia,
Representatives of the Private Sector and Members of the EUZBC
Representatives of the Media,
It is a privilege and an honour for me to welcome you today to this outreach event on the European Union External Investment Plan.
I wish first of all to thank the Honourable Minister, Hon. Christopher Yaluma, who enthusiastically accepted our invitation and is honouring us with his presence today. This shows the strong commitment of the Government to engage with private sector and support investments in the country.
I would also like to thank our colleagues from Brussels who will be presenting to you in detail the state of play of the implementation of the European Union External Investment Plan as well as the Development Banks represented here today that will present specific Guarantees from which Zambia is eligible to benefit from.
Dear friends, last year in his State of the Union Address, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, announced a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The alliance complements the long-standing political partnership between the two continents. It deepens the economic and trade relations and goes beyond a donor-recipient approach.
At the 5th African Union – European Union Summit, held in Abidjan, both partners had agreed that economic investment, job creation and trade were common priorities, requiring joint commitment.
Why a European External Investment Plan?
The European External Investment Plan is certainly one of the most improtant tools available to us to implement this strategy.
As you may know, the European Union and its Member States are by far the largest global cooperating partner when it comes to development aid. Nonetheless, we have realised that our public funds are not enough if we want to achieve our common objectives and pursue our common interests, meet the Sustainable Development Goals and tackle the challenges of today's world.
And this is why we are presenting today the External Investment Plan. Because we have realised that we need also the private and the financial sector to join in and contribute to achieve these goals. This is what the External Investment Plan is all about: allowing companies to invest and expand their businesses also in sectors and markets considered more risky, and offer job opportunities for the people where investments are made, including the people of Zambia and in particular for the Zambian youth.
What is the EU External Investment Plan?
So, what we will do in order to spur these investments is to mobilise European funds to blend loans and to provide guarantees for investments in different sectors: renewable energy, SMEs, smart cities, digitalisation and agriculture. It is expected that the EU funds (4.5 bn Euros, including 1.5 bn for guarantees) will crowd in up to 44 bn Euros from Financing Institutions, EU Member States and private sector for Africa and the EU neighbourhood. We will obviously also continue to blend our resources with those of other partners in order to ensure the financing for these same investments, but the big innovation and the step forward that we are giving with the EIP is the guarantee scheme, which my colleagues will present to you in details this morning.
But the Plan will not simply give financial support and financial guarantees. Investors, may they be local or foreign, are not only concerned with the financial risk, but also with the business environment they are operating or they plan to operate in. As such, the package also includes specific Technical Assistance to support both the development and implementation of bankable projects, and the enhancement of the business climate, which will also be discussed this morning during a panel.
As we have already presented the main features of the European External Investment Plan to most of you last year, this event is meant to update you on the state of play of the implementation of the Plan and to give you a good idea of what is available for Zambia and how you can concretely benefit from this opportunity.
Let me conclude by saying that this strategic initiative is extremely innovative and it is by far the best offer the EU has ever made. We count on your support to transform it into reality for the improvement of the lives of many.
Now I would like to give the floor to the Honourable Minister to present us with his opening remarks.