18 October 2017

Africa: Remarks At the Sino-African Infrastructure Development Cooperation Seminar

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Hon. Ronald Chitotela, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development,

Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry,

Ms. Bernadette Deka, Executive Director of PMRC,

Representatives present,

Friends from the media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning. I am very pleased to attend the Sino-African Infrastructure Development Cooperation Seminar and exchange views on the opportunities and challenges of the Sino-African infrastructure development cooperation. First of all, allow me to wish this Seminar a great success.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Infrastructure is the foundation of a country's modernization drive. With the development of the economy, the promotion of irrigation for example, has made the agriculture sector not subject to the weather, the electricity has provided the manufacture industry with adequate and stable power, telecommunication facilities have allowed people throughout the world to communicate with each other directly and instantly, the construction of roads and ports have expanded the commercial activities from the rural areas to the cities and to the whole world. The large-scale infrastructure development has effectively advanced the economic development and social progress of many countries. This is the only law for national development of a country, for China, for Zambia, and for any other country in the world.

Firstly, infrastructure development promotes economic growth. China has a saying, "If you want to be rich, build roads first ". It emphasizes on the importance of infrastructure development. China's infrastructure investment grew from $30 billion in the 1980s to about $ 1 trillion in 2011, an increase of 35 times, while China's GDP grew 11.7 times over the same period. The World Bank has compared the relationship between infrastructure development and economic growth in developing countries between the period of 2001-2005 and 1991-1995 and discovered that the annual economic growth rate in a developing country with continued improvement of its infrastructure was 1.6% higher than normal.

Secondly, infrastructure development creates jobs. In China, relevant data reveals that 1 RMB of transport infrastructure investment can mobilize 6-8 RMB related investment in the whole society. Such investment leads to economic boom in the related service sectors, which in turn gathers a large number of workers. More workers will be engaged for the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure project, when it is completed. In 2008, in response to the international financial crisis, China implemented a 4 trillion RMB investment plan with an emphasis on infrastructure development, and created more than 90 million job opportunities in total.

Thirdly, infrastructure development effectively eliminates poverty. Eradication of poverty is the primary objective of the 2030 sustainable development agenda and an important way to promote and protect human rights. Infrastructure construction could include the poor population in the remote areas into the national economic development process and allow them to have access to medical, educational and communication conveniences, thereby truly empower them with economic development and poverty alleviation abilities. In the past 30 years, China went through a period of rapid infrastructure development which happened to a period of fastest poverty reduction, with more than 700 million people out of poverty.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

From the experiences of the Chinese side, the development of infrastructure should abide by the following principles:

Firstly, the principle of sustainable development. An infrastructure project should be sufficiently profitable and can sustain its own redevelopment. For a power plant project, it shouldn't be a problem, but it would be difficult for a road project. Tolling therefore is a necessary way for a developing economy, especially in its initial development stage.

Secondly, the principle of diversification of financing and management. It is never easy for the financing of an infrastructure project. New models of financing must be explored and applied in an open-minded way, and projects fully funded by the government should be reduced. At the same time, different management models should be applied so that all the stakeholders can share responsibilities as well as interests.

Thirdly, the principle of aligning infrastructure projects with economic development zones. An infrastructure project should aim to drive the development of relevant regions. The construction of railways and roads, for example, should bring about the development of cities along them. In this regard, the Lusaka-Ndola dual carriageway will create valuable opportunities for the development of the cities along the road. In my view of point, the revamping of TAZARA should also observe this principle, and include the development of the regions along the route in the revamping plan.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and Zambia have enjoyed a long history of friendship, in which infrastructure cooperation stands out as an important part. The cooperation can be traced back to TAZARA and now has covered all aspects of infrastructure development. It should be mentioned that after several years of efforts, Zambia has made great achievements in its infrastructure development, and by doing so has enhanced its socio-economic development and established a sound basis for the country's economic take-off.

China has a wealth of experience in infrastructure construction, and China's construction efficiency and project quality are among the best in the world, while Zambia is going through a fast infrastructure development period. Under the framework of FOCAC, I do see promising prospects for the further cooperation in infrastructure development between China and Zambia. Just I have said many times already, and I wish to reiterate again that the Chinese side is committed to continue to help Zambia improve its level of infrastructure development for an early realization of the Vision 2030.

Thank you.

Zambia

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