France maintains very good relations with Zambia based on shared values and on the common desire to contribute to the stability of Africa. The late President Levy Mwanawasa met with President Jacques Chirac in Paris in February 2002 and participated in the Africa-France Summit (February 2003). The reopening at the end of 2004 of the Embassy of Zambia in Paris (closed since 1996) also demonstrated the high quality of those relations. During the visit to Lusaka in February 2005 by the French Minister Delegate for Cooperation, Development and Francophonie, Xavier Darcos, an aide-mémoire was signed on the coordination and harmonization of assistance to Zambia. Following a stroke, President Mwanawasa was hospitalized in France at the Percy Hospital where he died on 19 August 2008. Zambia was most appreciative of the consideration shown by our country in those circumstances.
Finally, Edgar Lungu, who was then Minister of the Interior, attended the Elysée Summit of December 2013. After being elected president in January 2015, Edgar Lungu was received on an official visit by President Hollande in February 2016.
During this visit, several partnership agreements were signed between France and Zambia. An agreement in the area of TV and radio enabled the broadcasting of France 24 in Zambia. In the area of education and research, France will seek to facilitate student mobility with the opening of a Campus France office in Lusaka. University cooperation will be stepped up with an agreement between the University of Zambia, the engineering university Ecole de Mines in Nantes and Télécom Bretagne, in the area of engineering and logistics, but also between the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and the Hotel and Tourism Training Institute of Zambia in the tourism sector. Lastly, a scientific partnership will be established between the French National Museum of Natural History and its Zambian equivalent to provide knowledge on biodiversity and ensure its preservation.
France has an embassy in Lusaka.
Trade is not very significant between the two countries (bilateral trade of €33 million: French exports to Zambia amount to €28 million versus €5 million in Zambian imports to France in 2015), but are growing rapidly. The growing French trade surplus (€4.2 million in 2009 and €18.9 million in 2010, €24 million in 2011 and €33 million in 2012) fell to €17 million in 2015. French exports are driven by the sale of mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment. France imports precious stones and tobacco from Zambia.
France has a very visible business community in European companies operating in Zambia which include Lafarge (first market capitalization on the Lusaka Stock Exchange), Total, Bolloré, Comelex (Alstom subsidiary), Alstom, Veolia, Limagrain (has a stake in Seed Co), Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Schneider Electric, Newrest, Thales, Soletanche, BIC, Lactalis (Parmalat brand). Some 20 French companies are working or setting up business in Zambia. Some of those companies are leaders in their sectors. There is much potential in agriculture, tourism and infrastructure (in particular renewables, artworks, engineering structures, urban development), transport (civil aviation, rail transport), ICT and services.
French support for Zambia first uses European and multilateral channels:
- Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to bolster the healthcare system: $296.7 million for the period 2014-2016, to which France is the second-largest contributor after the United States (with $36 million or 12%).
- Support from the European Development Fund (EDF) (€489.8 million for the 10th EDF for the period 2008-2013). When it comes to the 11th EDF (2014-2020), EU assistance (€484 million) focuses on energy, agriculture and governance.
At bilateral level, the AFD participated in several projects in Zambia for a total of €130 million in 2014: the Itezhi Tezhi hydropower project; rehabilitation of the Zambian section of the regional Nacala Road Corridor; and the Copperbelt region water and sanitation project operated by Mulonga Water and Sewerage Co. Ltd. The AFD’s action in Zambia has been developing since 2015, in particular with farming, social housing and urban waste management projects.
In terms of cultural diplomacy, three focuses have been identified: (1) support for Francophonie, (2) cultural action implemented first and foremost by the Alliance Française in Lusaka as the capital’s main cultural centre and (3) implementation of projects for exchanges and partnerships between universities, engineering schools in particular.
The French Ambassador to Zambia is Special Representative to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). France and the International Organisation of La Francophonie (IOF) have financed and support a language centre located at COMESA headquarters for teaching French to officials of the organization.