China says Zim ripe for investment

China Ambassador to Zimbabwe Zhou Ding
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ZIMBABWE and China’s enduring relations were upgraded to the “Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation” status in 2018, underpinning the solid historical ties the two countries share.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Zimbabwe Independent chief reporter Tinashe Kairiza (TK), Chinese ambassador Zhou Ding (ZD) spoke about the vast investment opportunities in Zimbabwe. However, the diplomat also highlighted a myriad of bottlenecks in Zimbabwe’s unstable macro-economic environment characterised by currency volatility frustrating efforts to mobilise foreign direct investment (FDI). Below are excerpts of the interview:

TK: China is currently rolling out multi-billion-dollar infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe. What is your assessment of Zimbabwe as an investment destination?

ZD: China and Zimbabwe enjoy a long-standing friendship dating back to the period of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle in the 1960s and 1970s. The two countries established diplomatic relations on April 18 1980, the day of Zimbabwe’s independence. Under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Cooperation has kept on being strengthened, yielding fruitful results. In recent years, China has consistently remained as Zimbabwe’s largest source of foreign investment and major trading partner.

The key projects built with Chinese government concessional loans, including Hwange power station expansion project Unit 7&8, Kariba South power station expansion project, expansion of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Victoria Falls Airport upgrading project among others. They have played important roles in dealing with power shortages, improving transportation and energy infrastructures in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a charming land with excellent climatic conditions and abundant natural resources.

President Mnangagwa has implemented the mantra of “Zimbabwe is open to business”, and striving to optimise Zimbabwe’s business environment. As a result, a large amount of international capital, including that from China, has poured into Zimbabwe, making it one of the most dynamic economies in Africa. I believe Zimbabwe still holds tremendous potential in terms of attracting foreign investments and has broad prospects in developing its economy.

TK: What challenges are Chinese investors facing?

ZD: Investments by Chinese companies in Zimbabwe are very diversified, active in various sectors, such as energy and power, mining, manufacturing, agriculture, construction and services. Chinese investments have made tremendous contribution to Zimbabwe’s economic and social progress. However, there are also challenges and obstacles facing Chinese investors. Issues like currency devaluation, high inflation, as well as sometimes inconsistent tax policies impose financial burdens to investors. The stagnant global market, declining international prices of minerals including lithium and platinum pose challenges to investors and the mining sector of Zimbabwe.

In addition, power shortages and inadequate infrastructures are also leading to reduced productivity and increased operation cost.

TK: Will Chinese investors continue to set up

ZD: I believe the challenges are surmountable. I believe that the economic and trade relations between our two countries enjoy bright prospects. Chinese investments will definitely continue to make greater contribution to Zimbabwe’s industrialisation, modernisation and the realisation of Vision 2030.