WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Zambia is currently considering the proposal by Russia for the use of its domestically produced Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19, Russian Ambassador to Zambia Alexander Boldyrev told Sputnik.
“The Russian side has submitted to its Zambian partners a proposal to use a domestically developed vaccine against coronavirus … The initiative was well received here and the issue is under consideration now”, Boldyrev said.
The country has increased the testing capacity of its healthcare system in the past few months, the ambassador explained adding that recently, one of the reputable foreign travel agencies even included Zambia in the top of the world ranking of the safest travel destinations for travelers during the pandemic.
The ambassador recalled that in September, during the official ceremony on behalf of the Russian government, the Zambia’s health minister Chitalu Chilufya took delivery of Russian humanitarian aid intended to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“The reagents for conducting 5,000 individual PCR tests for COVID-19 were delivered by a special flight of Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations to neighbouring Zimbabwe, and then transported by the embassy’s vehicles to Lusaka”, Boldyrev revealed. “The minister of health expressed deep gratitude to the Russian authorities and the people of our country for such timely and valuable support, highlighting the strong nature of Russian-Zambian relations, shown in an act of solidarity in the fight against COVID-19”.
In the beginning of November, Zambia’s Ambassador to Russia Shadreck Luwita told Sputnik that his country was eager to get the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine as soon as it hits the market, adding that health ministers of the two countries were already in talks on the matter.
Russia is among the leaders of COVID-19 vaccine development with two of its products — Sputnik V, created by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, and EpiVacCorona, by the Siberian research center Vector — already in the Phase 3 trials.
An agreement on cooperation between the internal affairs ministries of Russia and Zambia has been concluded and is ready for signing, Russian Ambassador to Zambia Alexander Boldyrev told Sputnik.
“In February of this year, the delegation of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, headed by Valentina Matviyenko, visited the republic, which confirmed Russia’s focus on building up the entire range of ties. The legal framework of the two countries was enriched last year by the intergovernmental agreement on visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passports. An agreement on cooperation between Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Zambia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs is ready for signing”, Boldyrev said.
Boldyrev pointed out that recently, there has been an intensification of bilateral contacts, including through high-level and top-level meeting. He also recalled that in 2018, Zambia and Russia entered a qualitatively new stage of interstate dialogue thanks to a separate full-format meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Zambian counterpart, Edgar Lungu, which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the first time in the history of bilateral relations. In October 2019, the first Russia-Africa Summit and the Russia-Africa economic forum were held in Sochi, in which Zambian Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji participated.
Boldyrev also pointed to the recent revitalisation of interaction between the two countries’ political parties, and revealed that the United Russia Party and Zambia’s ruling party, the Patriotic Front, are in talks on prospective cooperation agreement.
“All this should diversify the Russian-Zambian agenda, and give the relations the necessary impetus for expanding ties between Zambia and Russia, including at the regional level. Points of contact of interests can be found in the agro-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex, energy, services, light industry, in the IT sector and tourism”, Boldyrev noted.
The diplomat suggested that Russia’s major manufacturers of agricultural machinery, such as the Rostselmash Group, the Tractor Plants concern, PJSC Kirovsky Zavod, and others, should analyse export opportunities, and perhaps even the possibility to assembly products in Zambia.
“Also, the authorities of Zambia are especially interested in the development of railway communication, modernisation of tracks and rolling stock. Now, trucks entering mining provinces are seriously destroying the roadbed, which would have been avoided with the normal functioning of the railway transport. Moreover, domestic companies producing mineral fertilisers, PJSC Uralkali of the Perm Territory and JSC UCC Uralchem from Moscow, have significant potential for developing the local market and continue to “look closely” at the profitability of doing business in the region”, Boldyrev said.
The ambassador went on to say that given the continuing high demographic dynamics, the predominance of young people under 35 and their lack of access to modern digital financial technologies, the participation of domestic companies in the IT sector may become the basis for bilateral cooperation in the future.
“We are talking not so much about recognised IT giants like Yandex and Mail.ru Group, but rather about small companies involved in the creation of information resources, Internet services and mobile applications. Zambia highly appreciates the vast scientific and technological experience and production capabilities of Russia, and expresses interest and readiness to expand mutually beneficial partnerships in these areas”, Boldyrev added.
According to the Russian ambassador, the project for construction of the Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology, launched in Zambia in 2015 under the auspices of Russia’s Rosatom, “continues to play the role of the locomotive in promoting capital-intensive projects in the Zambian market”.