AGOA benefits already recorded
By CYNTHIA MWALE
ZAMBIA is poised for a significant economic boost following its hosting of the 10th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, with the Immigration Department raking in US$41,290 (about K200 million) in visa fees from June 1 to 6, 2011.
Most stakeholders have indicated that there will be a multiplier effect in the economy because of the magnitude of delegates expected to come and spend their money during their stay.
Zambia is hosting the on-going AGOA Forum under the theme Enhanced Trade Through Increased Competitiveness, Value Added and Deeper Regional Integration.
The Immigration Department, hoteliers and business community, say Zambia will experience a boost in various sectors of the economy.
Immigration Department spokesperson Justin Siame said in an interview yesterday that the AGOA Forum has significantly increased revenue in visa fees.
“As at June 1 – 6, we have ploughed in US$41,290 plus and another K26 million from the (Lusaka) International Airport,” he said.
Mr Siame said the department collected US$34,020 from May 25-31, attributing majority of the collections to delegates attending the AGOA forum, which officially opens today.
This represents an increase of US$7,270 in the first week of June.
He, however, could not estimate the expected revenue, but indicated that the amount is expected to rise.
“We hope by the end of the forum, there will be significant increase, (as some delegates arrived before the figures were compiled),”he said.
Tourism Council of Zambia (TCZ) chairperson Mark O’Donnell said the hospitality sector and other support industries will benefit from the hosting of the forum which has attracted about 2,000 delegates.
Mr O’Donnell said, in a separate interview, that the hospitality industry is eagerly anticipating increased revenue and new investment opportunities.
“TCZ is delighted. If we have to get prosperity, we need to integrate with the rest of the world. It is a major boost,” he said.
And Hotel and Catering Association of Zambia (HCAZ) president Felix Mulenga agreed that such a big event will definitely boost the industry and place Zambia on the world map.
Mr Mulenga said the industry should maximise on the opportunity of the large number of high-profile people coming into the country, especially that the tourism flow has been recently threatened by the persistent political turmoil in the Middle East and the recent natural calamities in Japan.
He, however, could not give estimates of how much will be recouped from the event.