By Kuda Bwititi
Beitbridge — Economic deals signed between Zimbabwe and China are bearing fruit following yesterday’s successful commissioning of the National Backbone Fibre Link that was directly funded by a US$23,6 million facility from China Export and Import Bank (China Eximbank).
This comes as Chinese acting chief envoy to Zimbabwe Ambassador Zhao Baogang revealed that Harare is in line for more funding from the Chinese through a $750 billion fund that the world’s second biggest economy has earmarked for global projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Zimbabwe has over the past few years signed more than a dozen landmark deals with China in which the Oriental State provided financial support for the much needed economic enablers for infrastructure development.
Speaking after commissioning the TelOne National Backbone Fibre Link in Beitbridge yesterday, President Mnangagwa thanked the Chinese government for supporting the project which is in line with the national vision of attaining a middle income economy by 2030.
“Special appreciation goes to the government of the People’s Republic of China represented here by the Ambassador Zhao Baogang for the loan facility which they continue to avail in support of infrastructure development in our country.
“The US$98 million loan facility through the China Eximbank enabled the timely completion of the project,” President Mnangagwa said.
The President said China was a fundamental partner in Zimbabwe’s thrust to revive its economy.
“It gives us comfort to know that we have strategic comprehensive partners and friends who continue to stand by us in our quest for development, progress and prosperity.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Zhao also paid tribute to China Eximbank saying “without them, this project would not have been made possible”.
He said China would remain as a true friend to Zimbabwe by vigorously supporting President Mnangagwa’s economic reform programmes.
“We cannot expect that you can satisfy the need or demand of everybody. Your friends are always your friends and we are here to support you. The enemy is trying to find every means to undermine your efforts to develop the economy
“I want to reiterate that China is always here as your friend, to show our solidarity and support your efforts for development.”
Ambassador Zhao said under the BRI, Zimbabwe was one of China’s strategic partners that was poised to receive “more grants, more loans and more investment”.
“This year in April, we will have the second international forum on BRI so that we can encourage cooperation between China and countries under the BRI. Zimbabwe is one of our partners under the BRI. With this BRI, we will invest more than $750 billion in the coming years.
“So I want to make an announcement here that on the cooperation between China and Zimbabwe, we will provide more grants, more loans and more investment.”
He said future cooperation between Zimbabwe and China “is bright” while noting that the two countries needed to continue engaging for cooperation to be more efficient.
Ambassador Zhao said several projects signed between Zimbabwe and China had taken shape as “great achievements had been made working together”.
“Over the years the Chinese have completed the financing of the Victoria Falls Airport project with the financing of US$153 million from the China Eximbank.
“Then last year we started our groundbreaking ceremony of the RG Mugabe Airport.
“With the joint efforts of both sides, I also expect that Zimbabwe will become the regional hub of power in electricity. Last year we completed Kariba South expansion project worth $533 million, increasing power generation by 300MW.
“Last year President Mnangagwa also launched the ground-breaking ceremony for Hwange expansion with financing of more than $1 billion.
“With the completion of that project, the power generation capacity of Zimbabwe will be increased by 600MW.
“So I can foresee that after 42 months Zimbabwe will have enough electricity not only for domestic demands but also for export to neighbouring countries.
“Now we are also working together to do the feasibility study for the Batoka Project. We encourage the Chinese companies to join you to undertake the project and also normalise the financiers for the project.
When we complete this project, the power generation capacity will be increased by 1 200MW. One day, Zimbabwe will become the regional hub of energy.”
Since assuming office, President Mnangagwa has met his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, a number of times to give impetus to projects signed between the two countries.