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FOCAC Should Focus on Development, Poverty Issues
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Development and poverty issues should top the agenda of the forthcoming Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation scheduled from November 4 to 5, Zambia's Foreign Minister Mundia Sikatana said in Lusaka on Monday.

"The summit should focus on development and the most important issue that should be attended to is poverty on this continent," Sikatana told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Sikatana is one of the members of the Zambian delegation led by President Levy Mwanawasa who will together with his cabinet members and other government officials start off on Tuesday for the summit.

The foreign minister said the summit was a "very important forum " which was intended to establish working relations between China and African countries.

"China today is a world power that is capable of assisting Africa in its development programs," Sikatana said, adding that he was very excited about the meeting, which is the third and also the largest one since its inauguration which will see over 40 African leaders convene and discuss issues of common concern.

Sikatana said Zambia as well as other African countries can benefit from China's experience in development and its advanced technology in the fight against poverty.

"Chinese people are hardworking, and the fight against poverty here can be achieved if we learn to work hard," he said.

"If we adopt technologies from China, it could improve our production," he added.

Being a former agriculture minister, Sikatana said Zambia could benefit a lot if the country's agriculture is fully developed. However, it was facing problems of lack of technologies as well as environmental destruction, he added.

"We will do well if we can adopt Chinese technology that produces charcoal from agricultural waste. I hope we can gain a lot out of that," the minister said.

The minister said the country also need China to help it tap the potential of water resources. With its numerous rivers, Zambia's water resources account for 25 percent of all those in southern Africa. The country's hydro-electric power is considered to be a regional asset that is under-utilized for being lack of technologies and irrigation system.

"Technology is what we need and what we want to bring back to Zambia from China. We need knowledge to improve our yield and to improve our capacity of producing for export," Sikatana said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2006)

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