City officials invited to Africa

Alisa Boswell

Portales city leaders may be headed for Zambia, Africa, next summer for further meetings with Zambian kings Nzamane and Mukunis.

The kings have offered to pay all costs except for flights to and from Zambia.

“Next July, we would like to expect some people to come to Zambia,” said Patrick Mapalo, an ambassador to the kings. “The royal highness has extended this invitation to foster these relations by having New Mexico officials come to Zambia.”

City officials met with Mapalo and other ambassador Andrew Chapuma Friday afternoon to further discuss cultural and educational relations between New Mexico and Zambia, Africa.

“Then they can say, ‘you have seen Zambia. Now how do you think we could progress with this relationship?’” Mapalo said.

The two Zambian kings visited Portales on Oct. 5 for a luncheon with city officials and to tour the Abengoa ethanol plant, which converts sorghum.

Mapalo and Chapuma covered a variety of topics, from Zambia’s medical care and government to its natural resources and raining season, as officials asked further questions on topics, such as the Zambian housing market, health care and game parks.

The two men compared and contrasted Zambian resources to those of New Mexico, saying they have little wind but in Zambia it rains six months straight every year.

“Our royal highness is wanting to find out more about how this is done, Mapalo said of the process of turning sorghum into ethanol.

Zambia currently uses sugar cane for ethanol, but according to Mapalo, Zambian officials want to learn more about using sorghum due to the abundance growing in the country.

“The other important aspect of these relations is the Africa Growth Opportunity Act,” Mapalo said, saying the act is being presented to U.S. Congress and states that over 1,000 African products can be shipped into the U.S. without fees.

Mapalo and Chapuma said most products in Zambia are organic and the country is abundant in sugar cane, sorghum, oil, diamonds, coffee and agriculture.

The two men also mentioned fostering exchange programs between universities in Zambia and Eastern New Mexico University as well as pen pal programs between public school students.

After discussing some details of their country, the two men again extended an invitation on behalf of their kings for Portales city officials to visit Zambia.

City officials told the two ambassadors they would love to be able to see their country.

“I’m very excited to foster this relationship,” City Councilor Leo Lovett said in response to the ambassador. “You said your country is hospitable. You’ll find the same in Portales. We’re very open to new types of relationships.”