PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says it is high time to address the exploitation of African businesses paying higher cost of capital on the international market.
President Hichilema was speaking during the 22nd Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) heads of State summit in Lusaka today.
The President notes that Africa pays too much for capital.
"We can not continue to be leaders of the continent when our businesses pay higher cost of capital than any other business in the world," President Hichilema said.
"We are being discriminated even in the financial sectors yet our businesses are judged in the same way as those business that access capital at three, four, five, per cent. (While) we who access capital at 13,14 per cent are judged in the same way, and obviously we don't expect a good rating credit."
President Hichilema said rating agencies are placing risk premiums: "on us it high time we address those issues."
This is the first physical summit in five years, due to COVID-19 and it is being held under the theme: "economic integration for a thriving COMESA anchored on green investment value addition and tourism."
During the event, President Hichilema assumed the role of COMESA chairperson, taking over from Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
President Hichilema will be chaiperson of COMESA for a period of 24 months.
The summit saw Presidents Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), William Ruto (Kenya) and Burundi's Ndayishimiye Evariste and other government representatives from various countries in the COMESA region converging at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre - Kenneth Kaunda wing.
Meanwhile, President Hichilema has called on COMESA leaders not to allow instability or watch as it happens in other nations as peace, security and stability are essential needs to develop the continent's social and economic development.
He further called for maximum utilisation of resources to better the lives of people on the continent as Africa was blessed with abundant natural resources.
President Hichilema further tipped COMESA to think within, when looking for investors rather than going for foreign direct investments.
By Moses Makwaya
Kalemba June 8, 2023