Zambian President visits Heriot-Watt University



Group shot with First Minister
From Left to Right: Heriot-Watt Chancellor, Professor Sir Geoff Palmer; First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf; President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia and Heriot-Watt Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard A. Williams.

Zambia’s president is visiting Scotland today at the invitation of Heriot-Watt University and the Scottish Government.

President Hakainde Hichilema, who became the seventh president of Zambia in 2021, is visiting with Zambia’s ministers of finance, education and international affairs. The delegation attended a private reception at Heriot-Watt’s Panmure House, the final residence of Scotland’s renowned economist, Adam Smith. The reception was followed by a bilateral meeting with Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, and a series of roundtable discussions at Heriot-Watt’s campus.

President Hichilema addressed representatives from civic society, NGOs, Scottish Government, and Zambian diaspora during the event, hosted by Heriot-Watt Chancellor, Professor Sir Geoff Palmer, and Heriot-Watt Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard A. Williams.

We were honoured to welcome President Hichilema to our University and hear about Zambia’s journey in transforming access to education to enable economic development.

Professor Richard A. Williams, Heriot-Watt University Principal and Vice-Chancellor


President Hichilema said: “We have always believed that education is the best investment a country can make. Scotland's history as a global leader in education and economics is well known. We are looking forward to fruitful discussions in Edinburgh as we meet with stakeholders in education, investment and global development.

“We are delighted to have been invited to speak at the prestigious Panmure House on the 300th anniversary of the birth of Adam Smith, the father of modern economics. Zambia's partnership with Scotland goes back many years and we welcome the opportunity to refresh and renew this historic friendship." 

First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “It was a pleasure to meet with the President of Zambia and his colleagues in Edinburgh to confirm a significant £1 million international development investment to establish a state-of-the-art research facility in Zambia. It was also great to discuss Scotland’s ongoing commitment to strengthening ties with Zambia and other areas for further co-operation such as inclusive education, equalities and renewable energy.”

Professor Williams said: “As Panmure House celebrates the 300th anniversary this year of Adam Smith’s birth, we were honoured to welcome President Hichilema to our University and hear about Zambia’s journey in transforming access to education to enable economic development. 

“We take great pride at Heriot-Watt University in our global efforts to widen access to education, and we were delighted to have recently reached the milestone of over 1,000 alumni in Zambia, who are now making a positive impact in their communities.”

This is the second presidential visit from Zambia to the University, following the visit by the former President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda in 2019 to mark the launch of the African Watt Club, Heriot-Watt’s graduates' association – thought to be the oldest alumni association in the UK, founded in 1854, now unites over 192,000 graduates from around the world. 

Graduates of the Women in Zambia MBA scholarship programme, co-founded by the Scottish Government and Heriot-Watt University, include Regina Mtonga, co-founder of a social enterprise called Asikana Network that has trained more than 30,000 women in technology skills, working with international companies like Meta (formerly Facebook).

Other Heriot-Watt alumni in Zambia include Norman Chipakupaku, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence in Zambia and a former President of The Watt Club.

Heriot-Watt alumni also include senior board directors of several Zambian banks and life insurers, including FNB Zambia, Citi Zambia, National Commercial Bank, Atlas Mara Zambia and Absa Life Zambia.

In January 2023, with support from donors, Heriot-Watt University launched the Denis Goldberg Scholarship Programme in Zambia. Named after the social campaigner who was jailed for 22 years for resisting apartheid, the scholarship is designed to help talented graduate employees in southern Africa study an online, part-time Master of Science (MSc) without having to leave their home country. It offers MSc degrees in Renewable Energy, Construction Management and Real Estate Management. 

Scotland has historical links to Zambia through Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone, who in 1855 was the first European to discover Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, the world’s largest curtain of falling water.

In February this year, President Hichilema welcomed Professor Williams in a visit to Zambia with Professor Gillian Murray, the University’s Deputy Principal for Enterprise and Business.


Victoria Masterson