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Charter Cities Institute Zambia Office Opens to Support Thriving New Cities Across Africa

Signed Memorandum of Understanding with Zambian Development Agency, Drafting New Special Economic Zone Guidelines and Gala Party all Highlight Opening Week

Lusaka, Zambia

February 16, 2023

On February 13, 2023, Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, the Honorable Chipoka Mulenga, raised a toast at the official launch of the Charter Cities Institute Zambia, saying “we welcome Charter Cities Institute’s innovative work on improving the framework of special economic zones and supporting the creation of a competitive enabling business environment in special economic zones that live up to their value proposition.” Charter Cities Institute (CCI) Executive Director, Kurtis Lockhart discussed the importance of empowered cities for prosperity given that Zambia and Africa’s future is urban. He went on to add, “there’s a beautiful phrase that’s lodged itself into the consciousness of a nation: a ‘New Dawn’. All citizens and residents across the country believe in and want nothing more than this new dawn; and given Zambia’s future is urban, a new dawn for the country, almost by definition means a new dawn for its cities.”

The gala event, held at the InterContinental Hotel, was officiated by Honorable Chipoka Mulenga (Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry), and featured overwhelming support from a distinguished high-level audience of local and international stakeholders from the State House, Central Government, Sub-National Government, and the private sector (including representatives from development partners, academia, think tanks, and civil society organizations).  Please see here for event photos.   

Keynote speakers at the event included: 

  • Jito Kayumba (Special Assistant to the President for Investments and Finance), who further reaffirmed the Government’s support for the Charter City Institute and the potential of charter cities to foster economic development drawing on the successful transformation of cities such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Hong Kong that saw tremendous growth in GDP.
  • Vitalik Buterin (Founder of Ethereum Blockchain), who shared his personal journey to explore Africa and its potential, saying he had seen firsthand, the challenges and opportunities of the young African continent and the role that technology and innovative solutions in governance and finance could play in helping move the continent forward, particularly, in advancing economic development in Africa.

Other attendees included Daniel Yu (Founder and CEO of Wasoko, a B2B commerce platform), who announced his plans to expand Wasoko to Zambia and invest $1 million; Mwiya Musokotwane (Co-Founder and CEO of Thebe Investments Limited); and Maambo Haamaundu (Permanent Secretary for Administration of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development said the Ministry), who noted the importance of urban development in shaping the future of cities and unleashing their potential to foster economic transformation, saying, “it is through innovative models such as the charter cities model – that combine decentralization, special jurisdiction and city development – that we can truly transform the face of our urban centers and make them more livable, sustainable, and economically productive.”

The launch party though was but a small part of a landmark week for Zambia and CCI, as on February 15th, CCI signed a MOU with the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) aimed at increasing competitiveness and enhancing the performance of special economic zones (SEZ) to better attract investments, create jobs and accelerate inclusive and sustained economic growth. CCI will immediately support ZDA and the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry in developing SEZ regulations needed to align with and support the broader SEZ legislative framework previously enacted in Zambia.

The official launch of CCI Zambia marks a significant milestone in the Institute’s existence. CCI Zambia was set up to offer on-the-ground support tailored to the local context and to promote ownership by and engagement with key stakeholders. The major objective of the office is to advance the building of thriving new cities that foster investments, create jobs, cluster innovation, and promote human flourishing across Africa. Mwanda Phiri-Mwewa, CCI’s Africa Lead noted, “the office was strategically launched a year following the operationalization of the office in Zambia to allow for the groundwork to be laid and strategic partnerships to be forged and thus, lend more legitimacy to the launch. CCI Zambia has already formed strategic partnerships with the Zambia Development Agency, public and private special economic zone and city developers, local authorities, associations, think tanks and academia that are all committed to supporting the building of thriving new special economic cities that are well planned, financed, built, and governed.”


About the Charter Cities Institute:  CCI is an organization dedicated to empowering new cities with better governance that attract investment, spur business formation, boost job creation, cluster innovation, and in turn kick-start sustained economic growth that lifts tens of millions of people out of poverty and into prosperity.  For more information about CCI, please visit, or contact Michael Holstein; for more information about CCI Zambia, please contact Mwanda Phiri

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November 16-18, 2023 | Kigali, Rwanda


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