Chinese firms scramble for infrastructure projects

HARARE - Transport minister Joram Gumbo says various Chinese firms have expressed interests to partner with government in the implementation of major infrastructure deals in the country.

This comes as President Robert Mugabe’s government, for long a pariah in the West, has increasingly turned to China for investment to help an economy desperate for new infrastructure like roads, power, and water.

Gumbo told journalists on Wednesday at the official opening of the Harare International Airport road that his Ministry was currently reviewing proposals submitted by Chinese companies on lined-up road infrastructure projects such as the Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu trunk roads to commence next year.

Economic experts believe that works on these major roads could be efficiently completed by deep-pocketed Chinese firms.

Over the past few years Chinese companies have invested significantly in Zimbabwe’s critical sectors such as energy, roads, national rail network, telecommunications, agriculture and tourism.

China’s Sino Hydro Corporation recently clinched the $1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Plants expansion project and a $533 million Kariba South project.

Gumbo said the impending visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping was a positive move in strengthening economic and political ties between the two countries.

“Our relations with China date back to a very long time ago. We have received great support from China over the years,” he said adding that Jinping’s visit was expected to open “gates and opportunities for more partnerships.”

This comes as Industry minister Mike Bimha early this week revealed that China was now the largest foreign investor in Zimbabwe after the emerging Asian giant poured more than $200 million in the country in 2014.

Officially opening the Zimbabwe China Business Conference held in the capital Monday, Bimha told delegates that the two countries were looking at surpassing this figure this year.

“China is now our biggest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) with a total sum of $238 874 520 having been invested in 2014 in agriculture, construction, manufacturing, services, transport and tourism sectors” the minister said.

According to the latest United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, Zimbabwe attracted a total of $545 million in 2014 a 36 percent surge from $400 million registered in 2013.

“As we speak right now, it is no secret that the majority of investment delegations that came into Zimbabwe were from China.

“We project that last year’s figure may very likely be overtaken by the amount of investment the Chinese are bringing in this year,” he said.

Presently, Chinese companies are in the country to broker investment deals with government.

Some of these include Sinosteel Corporation; currently negotiating for investments in the ferrochrome sector, Chian Hi-Tech Corporation; negotiating in the textiles sector, China Volant Industry; also in ferrochrome negotiations and others.

China’s investments abroad are massive, amounting to $870 billion at the end of last year, according to data released by the Heritage Foundation, an American research institute.

The United States leads the way, having received a little more than $72 billion, with Zimbabwe hoping to tap into this investment as well.

Comments (1)

Except, of course, they will import Chinese expertise and workers, and Zimbabwe will be no better off (in terms of self-sufficiency) than before.

spiralx - 27 November 2015

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