UNITED States Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Martin A. Dale says his country is encouraged by the new government’s economic reforms so far.

Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on Minister for Small & Medium Enterprises Elias Mubanga, Thursday, Dale, who was accompanied by the USAID, also hailed the creation of the SME specific ministry.

“One of the things we’re really interested in discussing today is first and foremost the fantastic notion of this new ministry and given His Excellency’s emphasis on small medium enterprises and those being the engine behind driving economic prosperity and recovery during these difficult financial times,” Dale said.

“We’re very encouraged by the economic reforms we’ve seen thus far. In particular, the IMF debt level agreement that was reached and then the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact which is kind of the seal of approval of the international community by Zambia returning to the international fora when it comes to being an economic driver in Southern Africa.”

Dale said there were some opportunities for access to capital which would help the promotion of economic development in Zambia.

“One the things we wanted to talk about today is rule of law and transparency in the IMF program and then the reduction of debt, helping with the restructuring, also, enabling the small medium enterprises businesses and providing and enabling environment. We’ll talk a little about some opportunities for access to capital and other issues like that will help the promotion of economic development here in Zambia,” he said.

And Mubanga said his ministry was looking forward to working with the US government in finding sustainable solutions for SMEs.

“We’re excited, we know that the US is the biggest economy that we’re all looking to for help, especially the new dawn government,” Mubanga said.

“We appreciate the US, and we know that from here, I think we’ll be able to collaborate more, and our cooperation will be on a higher level.”

Mubanga said UPND wanted to revamp the economy.

“I’m excited to see USAID in this ministry because I know we’ll be able to tap more, you know what has been happening in Zambia for those of you who’ve been around here. And we want to revamp the economy and obviously we’re looking to the US to try and help the SMEs in Zambia,” he said.

“And for sure, I want to quickly say 60 to 70 percent of those that are involved in small businesses (SMEs), we want to try and see if we can formalize them. This ministry is there to try and see if we can now identify them.”

He said he also wanted to discuss some challenges which SMEs were facing.

“Of course I also want to probably talk about the challenges that they are facing. It is difficult to get capital and very difficult also to do business. We’d like partners like yourselves to come on board and we work as a team. Of course you’ve been there for some years and we know that you’ll be there for us. Challenges like training, skills training, it’s important for SMEs to know what they want to do. We also want to tap into that to see if we can train our people,” said Mubanga.