The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: China to Increase Investment in Zim

CHINESE Commerce Minister Chen Deming has pledged his country's commitment to invest in capital projects in Zimbabwe and help the country address its infrastructural problems relating to roads, water systems and power.

The Chinese Minister was addressing journalists after meeting Finance Minister Tendai Biti in Harare last week to discuss ways in which the Asian country could assist its age old African friend. "We should give support to the economic development of Zimbabwe as far as my job is concerned. We are confident about the future of Zimbabwe," he said.

Minister Chen said the discussions with his Zimbabwean finance counterpart had centred on infrastructure projects and ways in which his country could promote trade with Zimbabwe. Minister Biti said Government sought capital investment from China in light of its over-stretched national budget and little fiscal space to be able to fund key infrastructure projects.

"I must say we had very fruitful discussions which hopefully might see something materialising in the next few weeks as we all know there are many things that China and Zimbabwe have been discussing for a long time.

"The projects we are specifically talking about are the Kariba Hydro Power Station, Hwange Thermal Power Station and the Zambezi water project," he said.

The African Development Bank estimates that Zimbabwe has a yawning infrastructure deficit that requires about US$14 billion to address.

China and Zimbabwe have enjoyed a long period of cordial relations dating back to the days of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle against Britain.

And China has also made several huge investments in the country and some of its notable capital projects in the country include Sino-Zimbabwe Cement in Gweru and Anjin Diamonds invested in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

State-owned Chinese company Shandong Taishan Sunlight Group is also planning to invest up to US$2-billion to develop coal mines, coal-bed methane extraction and power projects in a western province of Zimbabwe.

Another Sino-Zimbabwe joint-venture agreement was recently signed and it has secured a coal concession of about 100 000 hectares in Matabeleland North Province, with reserves of more than two billion tonnes of coal.

An open-cast mine is expected to be developed with a capacity of 3-billion tonnes of coal a year from the project. The construction of a 600Megawatt coal-fired thermal power station is scheduled for commissioning in 2015. The project is also expected to have a coking coal plant with production capacity of 300 000 tonnes of coke annually.

The China Development Bank last year reported that it planned US$10-billion worth of investment in Zimbabwe over the next five years, and Chinese merchant Sinotex is also involved in a US$500-million cotton-production deal with more than 300 000 rural farmers.

Former Chinese ambassador Zimbabwe Mr Xin Shunkang last year said trade between China and Zimbabwe had doubled to US$800 million in the two years to 2012 and set to breach US$1 billion by end of last year.

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