By Felex Share
China has sent an 11-member delegation to Zimbabwe as a follow-up to President Mnangagwa’s State visit to the Asian economic giant early this month where several business deals were signed, while relations between the two countries were elevated to the highest status.
The delegation is exploring investment opportunities in various sectors in response to President Mnangagwa’s invitation and call that Zimbabwe is now open for business.
The Head of State and Government was in China two weeks ago where he sealed multiple business deals that will result in new projects, including giving traction to those that stalled under the previous political administration.
The latest Chinese delegation to arrive in the country on a week-long exploratory mission is led by China Trade Promotion Centre director Mr Tan Wenbao.
The organisation falls under China’s Ministry of Commerce.
The delegation includes managers from various companies interested in energy, agriculture, health and infrastructure development.
The group yesterday met Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) chief executive officer Mr Richard Mbaiwa before meeting Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) officials.
Mr Mbaiwa said the visit by the Chinese delegation was triggered by President Mnangagwa’s recent State visit to the Asian economic giant.
“Their arrival is in response to the invitation that has been made by President Mnangagwa through his message that Zimbabwe is open for business,” he said.
“We met some of the officials who came from China a few days ago and they indicated that they wanted to come and they have done so. When the President spoke and we interacted with them, we then cemented everything and from our discussions more delegations are headed for Zimbabwe.
“They are following up to look at potential areas of where they can invest. They have specific interest in the energy sector and they are going to Zera to be apprised of the regulatory framework in the energy sector. They have told us they have interest in hydro and solar power generation.
“In terms of infrastructure development, they are also meeting Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), which has a database of project seeking funding investments. In agriculture, they have interests and meetings have also been lined up.”
The Chinese delegation is meeting IDBZ officials today, while engagements with various ministries are expected on Thursday.
“They have just came on an exploratory mission, and this is the first step which we expect to produce results,” said Mr Mbaiwa. “We expect the meetings with the regulators and players to guide them in their determination.
“They also want to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with us, which outlines how we can cooperate in areas of trade and investment. They are sending it and we will look at it.”
During President Mnangagwa’s State visit, China and Zimbabwe agreed to elevate relations to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Status, the highest level of bilateral cooperation.
Among the deals sealed during the visit was the US$1 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station project, which had been floundering for three years.
Funds to start work on units 7 and 8 of the plant will be released immediately.
The Kunzvi Dam Project reached financial closure, with Sinohydro and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) committing to providing resources for the dam and water treatment plant, and to roll-out installation of smart prepaid water meters.
Other projects that will get immediate funding totalling about US$1 billion include Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expansion, the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden, NetOne’s expansion, refurbishment of Morton Jeffrey Water Treatment Plant and construction of a pharmaceutical factory.
Zimbabwe and China also signed a US$1 billion tourism Memorandum of Understanding.