Hakainde Hichilema, who is on a 72-hour official visit to Angola, held a meeting this Wednesday with his Angolan counterpart, João Lourenço, and spoke to the press at the end of the working meeting of the delegations of the two countries, who signed six instruments legal instruments for strengthening cooperation between the two States.
The Zambian head of state stressed that oil is one of the main consumer products, underlining the importance of fuels for Zambia's economy.
"I don't know how we managed to keep this situation of buying fuel from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world and not at the level of our neighbor. I believe that everyone is upset about this, because the market is close here, and Zambia too should feel bad, that we are not buying from our relative who is on the next corner, in the same house, this is unacceptable", he stressed.
According to the visit programme, Hakainde Hichilema will travel to Benguela on Thursday, where he is due to visit the Lobito Corridor and the construction work on the Lobito refinery.
In turn, João Lourenço said that the construction work on the Lobito refinery should be completed in 2026, highlighting the importance of carrying out other projects to better serve the neighboring country in terms of fuel.
"Fuels are important for the development of any economy, fuels are energy. It is very natural that Zambia, being our neighbor, is very interested in acquiring these fuels in Angola, in the neighboring country, especially when Angola has greater refining capacity of the crude oil it extracts", said the President.
João Lourenço informed that work had resumed for the completion of the Lobito refinery, and in the meantime, other projects should be carried out, namely the construction of the Luacano/Jimbe railway channel, to transport fuel from the Lobito refinery to Zambia by rail, in tanks on rails.
"But a better solution than that of transporting fuel by rail is without a doubt the construction of a 'pipeline' between the city of Lobito and Zambia", he stated.
According to João Lourenço, this project, which has been thought about for some time, is still standing, and its construction is under the responsibility of the Zambian side, "which initially had indicated a company, but for whatever reason that company ended up to be replaced by another".
"I believe that this step of replacing the first company will certainly have to do with the need to print greater speed in the construction project of the 'pipeline'", he stressed.
On the Angolan side, guaranteed João Lourenço, all facilities will be given in order to build the connection in good time, that is, before the completion of the Lobito refinery.
At the press conference, the President expressed confidence that the economies of both countries will evolve if "there is easy trade, if there is Angolan investment in Zambia and if there is Zambian investment in Angola".
"It is for this that we are working and we believe that this time we are not here to just limit ourselves to signing cooperation agreements, just to express intentions of interest, but we are here to make things happen", he stressed.
João Lourenço also said that Angola relies on the neighboring country, with which it shares a common border of 1,110 kilometres, for the restocking of cattle, a matter in which Zambia is "very strong".
"We want to draw on their experience, Angola needs to repopulate the country with livestock, particularly cattle, in addition to the possibility of buying meat from Zambia as a finished product for immediate consumption in our market", he highlighted.