By Jessica Achberger
When it comes to relations between African nations and Asian nations, the focus is undoubtedly on China. We have had numerous posts and papers on Zambia's relations with China, in a variety of capacities and with a range of viewpoints. While the relationship between Zambia and China is no doubt of critical importance to understand, recent visits to Japan and South Korea by President Sata turn the spotlight in a different direction.
President Sata has just ended a five day working visit to Japan, with much of the newspaper publicity on his side-trip to take mass in a Catholic Church in Hokkaido. But what did he actually accomplish?
The biggest accomplishment of the trip was the signing of the Kazungula Bridge Deal between Zambia, Botswana, and Japan. The project will be financed jointly through the African Development Bank and the Japan International Development Cooperation, commonly referred to as "JICA." The total cost for the project is US$142.22 million and is intended to replace the pontoon on the Zambezi River at the border crossing between Zambia and Botswana.
In addition to signing the Kazungula Bridge agreement, President Sata is reported by the Times of Zambia to have "met several business people and representatives of various organisations." He also visited Hokkaido University, where there are seven Zambian students studying, with hopes to grow the cooperation with the University of Zambia further in the future.
Next up on President Sata's Asia tour is South Korea for the third Korea-African Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Forum, originally launched in 2006. The three-day forum, co-hosted by the African Union and South Korea, will discuss development, trade, investment, and security issues. Including Zambia, seventeen African nations are attending the event.
In addition to attending the Forum, President Sata has scheduled meetings with the Prime Minister of South Korea and several Korean businesses, including Samsung and IS Dongseo.