February 13, 2015.
The elections have come and gone and Zambia has a new President, His Excellency Edgar Lungu.
President Lungu is taking time to assemble his cabinet and to think through his governing priorities – a good thing given that former President Sata’s sudden death and the whirlwind election probably left little time for planning. And given that President Lungu’s Administration will only have a year and a half in office before another presidential election, planning is surely needed.
So too is a strong cabinet, and we’ve been impressed with many of President Lungu’s appointments. I look forward to meeting the President and all of his Ministers soon and to working closely with them to help Zambia grow and prosper.
I was particularly struck in that regard by President Lungu’s decision to hold his retreat in the South Luangwa National Park – one of Zambia’s treasures — and by his recent comments about the importance of tourism, especially eco-tourism, to Zambia’s economic future.
I couldn’t agree more.
We see four sectors of Zambia’s economy as offering the most promise: mining, power generation, agriculture, and tourism.
Of those four, tourism is perhaps the one closest to my heart. My family and I came to Africa in part out of love for Africa’s nature – especially its wildlife. We will never forget the first time we saw lions and elephants and rhinos and all the rest in the wild; in their natural habitat.
Zambia wouldn’t be Zambia without its wildlife and preserving that heritage should be, as President Lungu said, a priority for all Zambians.
And to preserve it, he is also right that Zambians must see it as an economic imperative.
In my time in Zambia, I hope more than anything to see the growth of Zambian businesses and jobs in the tourism sector – and with it a rising commitment on the part of Zambians to stop illegal hunting and poaching.
So my hat’s off to President Lungu for raising this important issue so early in his presidency. The United States will help any way it can to see his vision become a reality.