Australia Awards Alumnus leads nation in high-level trade negotiations

Mr Mukela Munalula of Zambia is a Senior Economist focusing on Trade and Investment Promotions; an Executive Assistant to the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry; the go-to person for policy position papers; and a tour guide for potential investors in his country.

Shortly after his return from Australia, where he undertook an Australian Government sponsored Australia Awards – Africa Fellowship in Public Policy with a focus on Trade Policy Design, Analysis and Negotiation at the University of Adelaide, Mr Munalula worked on the five-year Strategic Plan for the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry.

The Plan runs for the period 2011-2015 and serves as the blue print for the Ministry in preparing annual work plans for that period.

“The objective of the plan was to promote the growth and development of the private sector,” says Mr Munalula.

He says he owes much of the success of the Strategic Plan to the skills and knowledge he acquired from his Africa Fellowship in Australia.

“Skills in research, data analysis, and monitoring and evaluation greatly helped in putting together the Strategic Plan,” he explains.

“We learnt how to develop trade policies and that came in handy when developing the Strategic Plan – it helped me to think about how we move forward in terms of our trade policy.”

With his newly acquired skills in negotiations and policy position writing, Mr Munalula has been well-positioned to lead the Zambian delegation at the recent Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) Trade and Customs Committee Meeting held in Lusaka, Zambia.

“When we go to these negotiation meetings, we have to consider our position as Zambia on the issues that will be discussed and prepare appropriate positions,” says Mr Munalula.

He has been involved in preparing position papers for the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC), COMESA, as well as the Tripartite Arrangement which includes COMESA, SADC and the East African Community (EAC).

When he is not writing position papers or engaged in negotiation meetings, Mr Munalula can be found on investment promotion missions.

“We were in South Korea last year and had meetings with the business community in which we encouraged them to come and invest in Zambia. That particular mission was led by the President of Zambia,” he says.

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