Stimulate interest in AGOA

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Sam Phiri says the media should take keen interest in reporting on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Dr Phiri said the media has a fundamental role to play in marketing Zambia’s vast and virgin investment potential to the outside world at the forthcoming AGOA forum.

He was speaking at a civil society AGOA media workshop at Golfview Hotel in Lusaka on March 28.

“In the media profession, time is long gone for ‘jacks-of-all-trades and masters of none,” he said.

Dr Phiri said specialisation in various fields including trade and economics is necessary for journalists to gain the necessary skills, fluency and authority on various subjects.

He said it should be a broader objective of the media to ensure that Zambia does not only serve as a venue for the AGOA forum but benefits through increased and expanded trade opportunities to the United States and other AGOA eligible markets.

Dr Phiri said the media should promote discussions on the future of AGOA and America’s trade policy in Africa to stimulate interest of eligible AGOA countries to participate in the Lusaka AGOA conference.

He said the media should interest the private sector in Zambia, the USA and other AGOA countries to participate in the AGOA trade exhibition and encourage the involvement of youths, women and business leaders.

Dr Phiri urged participants to go beyond replicating statements by various officials.

“Learn to break down the AGOA jargon into user-friendly language for the greater understanding of the public,” he said.

Dr Phiri commended civil society organisations for working with Government on the forthcoming AGOA forum scheduled to take place in Lusaka from June 6 to 8.

And the civil society has said Zambia needs to move away from traditional exports of primary commodities and diversify into value-added products to access the US market using AGOA.

Consumer Unit Trust Society (CUTS) international chairman Love Mtesa said organic products need to be encouraged if the country is to have an advantage in the AGOA market.

Ambassador Mtesa said Zambia needs to invest more in value-added products and invest in capacity-building of entrepreneurs.

He said this when opening a media capacity-building workshop organised by CUTS, Caritas Zambia and Centre for Global Dialogue in Lusaka on March 28.

He said as the country hosts the AGOA forum in June, the private sector and civil society should put the country’s trade agenda on the table and discuss with the USA representatives.

Ambassador Mtesa said there is need to develop national and sub-national AGOA strategies that include labour, private sector, civil society and the media to determine where Zambia’s competitive and comparative advantages lie outside mining.

“Zambia should seriously work on the challenges which she faces and these include high transportation costs, poor trade facilitation system and difficulties in accessing finance and credit facilities by manufacturers and exporters,” he said.

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