Sunday, August 07, 2016

Zimbabwe, China in US$6bn Deals
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Zimbabwe will soon get roughly US$6 billion for its national housing delivery and agriculture programmes from China through economic and technical co-operation agreements signed between the African Union and the Oriental giant in December 2015.

US$4 billion will go to farming and the remainder to housing provision, and The Sunday Mail understands Government is finalising the modalities of both projects.

Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Dr Obert Mpofu would not be drawn into revealing the exact amount, but officials we spoke to said the figure was around US$6 billion.

Dr Mpofu, who was in China last week to discuss the deals, said the funding and subsequent development would spur economic turnaround and create employment on a large scale.

China, he said, had agreed to open its markets to farm produce from Zimbabwe in a deal that would change the fortunes of rural households.

“We have prioritised agriculture and housing as the most critical projects for economic development. So, we went there to engage the Chinese and if these projects are approved, we are likely to get a substantive amount of money which will turn around the economy.

“Housing and agriculture are the centrepieces of development as they come with employment and technological advancements that this country need, and agriculture needs a substantive amount. (Local Government, Public Works and National Housing) Minister (Saviour) Kasukuwere and (Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development) Minister (Dr Joseph) Made were also present at the meeting . . .

“We met with our Chinese counterparts in agriculture and commerce; we also met the Vice-President of China and there seems to be goodwill on the part of the Chinese who are also interested in horticulture, beef, citrus fruits and organic products. These products can be supplied to Chinese markets within a day thus we have also engaged them to open their markets for trade in agriculture,” Dr Mpofu said.

In 2015, Zimbabwe and China signed several economic co-operation deals during President Xi Jinping’s State visit to Harare. Among the targeted sectors were agriculture, energy, infrastructure, housing and transport.

The Chinese leader then unveiled a US$60 billion chest for Africa’s development initiatives at the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in South Africa.

Economist Dr Gift Mugano said funding agriculture and housing was important as this would create employment and encourage technological advancements.

“Agriculture in Zimbabwe employs 67 percent of the population, which is about 4,2 million people in the production and manufacturing sector. Thus investing in the sector will help in creating more jobs in the country.

“Zimbabwe will also benefit immensely from the construction of low and middle-income houses as the country is one of the most expensive in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of wages because employers have to look at high accommodation costs. So, this will help reduce employment costs.”

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