15 January 2019

Zimbabwe: China Committed to Helping Revive Zim Economy

China is fully committed to helping Government revive the economy and has confi dence in the leadership of President Mnangagwa, Acting Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Zhao Baogang, has said.

In an interview with The Herald on the sidelines of the China-Zimbabwe New Year's gala at the University of Zimbabwe last week, Mr Zhao said his country was ready to help the economic turnaround eff orts being undertaken in Zimbabwe.

"This is a year of action and last year we completed the Kariba South Power extension project," he said.

"We have launched the ground breaking ceremony for Hwange Thermal Power Station and Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. We have a lithium project. We have also launched the New Parliament Building, and on the New Parliament Building we have decided to provide a grant of close to US$100 million." Mr Zhao said China availed a loan for Hwange Thermal Power Station.

"On the Hwange Thermal Power Station, we have provided a loan and we are fi nancing the project and for the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport we have decided to provide US$153 million and the fi rst batch of the funds has already been disbursed," he said.

"We also have a lithium project in Goromonzi -- the Arcadia project in Goromonzi. The total investment for the project is US$165 million, but a large amount of that investment is from Chinese investors."

Mr Zhao said some of its projects in Zimbabwe involved Chinese investors, Austrians and locals.

"We have started on a project to produce cigarettes in Zimbabwe," he said.

"This is a huge improvement in the cooperation in the tobacco industry. In the past in the tobacco industry, we had contract farming and we as China imported almost half of the tobacco produced in Zimbabwe, but this time we, in order to add more value to the tobacco industry in Zimbabwe, have decided to set up a joint venture with Savanna to produce cigarettes."

Mr Zhao said the projects had already taken off . "

I think this venture (tobacco) will contribute a lot to the revenue of the Government," he said.

"These projects are not projects under negotiation, not projects in the pipeline, but these are projects on the ground already. I say that 2019 is a year of action between China and Zimbabwe. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has visited China twice and on high level exchange.

"We have already elevated the relations between the two sides to comprehensive strategic partnership and through the cooperation we have achieved substantial achievements in the economic and trade sector."

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