Wednesday, February 01, 2017

New Era Dawns as Sino-Zimbabwe Ties Strengthen
February 2, 2017
Lovemore Chikova
Zimbabwe Herald

The signing of the mega deals between Zimbabwe and China worth billions of dollars in the past three years, signalled a new chapter in the two countries’ relations.The deals are based on China’s win-win cooperation and mutual relations with Zimbabwe that have existed for several decades. The scope of the mega deals, some of which are already being implemented, will change the status of the Zimbabwean economy.

It is a new era for Zimbabwe, which will emerge as the biggest beneficiary in its relations with the Asian economic giant.

China has made it clear that it is willing to help not only Zimbabwe, but other African countries to realise their long cherished dream of industrialisation.

It is important that the mega deals signed with Zimbabwe are in different sectors of the economy.

Critics of both governments have been at the forefront of discrediting the mega deals, especially when they think they are taking too long to be implemented.

For starters, the first of the deals were signed when President Mugabe paid a State visit to China in 2014.

The other deals were put on paper when Chinese President Xi Jinping came to Zimbabwe on a similar State visit at the end 2015.

This was before President Xi proceeded to South Africa for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, where he expanded on the new chapter in cooperation between the two countries.

At that meeting, President Xi outlined a 10-point plan which encompasses all the necessary aspects of enhancing Africa’s industrialisation, with help from his country.

With Zimbabwe, it has been barely three years since the signing of the mega deals. But some media outlets have been regularly campaigning to discredit them.

Political opponents of Zanu-PF, especially opposition officials, have joined the band wagon in criticising the mega deals.

The impression that people of like-mind want to create is that the mega deals have collapsed.

Yet, this is contrary to what obtains on the ground. The mega deals are alive and well, as evidenced by the progress being made, especially in areas of partnerships between firms from both countries.

The deals signed between China and Zimbabwe were mainly aimed at kick-starting the industrialisation and modernisation of the economy.

The major driver of industrialisation is electricity, which is necessary to power industries and help modernise sectors such as agriculture.

Without enough power generation, most developmental aspirations of a country cannot be achieved. This is why it is not surprising that in the implementation of the mega deals, China and Zimbabwe have prioritised electricity generation.

Those who criticise the mega deals always make sure to avoid mentioning progress being made by Sino Hdyro in the expansion of Kariba South Power Station.

Sino Hydro is a Chinese firm in partnership with the Zimbabwe Power Company in the Kariba project, which is part of the mega deals. The progress being made at Kariba South represents progress in the implementation of the deals.

No country can run a successful industrialisation programme without adequate supplies of electricity. This is why China and Zimbabwe should be commended for tackling the important issues first.

The Kariba South project has become one of the pillars of the mega deals, as the success of most of them depends on the availability of electricity.

The good news is that by Christmas this year, the first unit of the new electricity plant will be put on line, with the second expected to start running by March next year.

Latest information shows that at least 75 percent of civil works have been completed, while 30 percent of mechanical installations have been done.

The project is expected to add 300MW to the national grid when at full throttle.

Sino Hydro is already working on developing the Hwange Seven and Eight power supply units at Hwange Thermal Power Station, which will add another 600MW.

Zimbabwe generates about 1 300MW against a peak demand of 2 200MW.

For the efficient operation of the economy, the country should also consider looking for partners to enhance the power generation of the other small power stations. The small power stations are in Harare, Bulawayo and Munyati near Kwekwe .

It should be commended that China and Zimbabwe have taken their time to work on the most important aspects of the mega deals. Once the electricity supply is up to scratch, the implementation of the other deals will pick up pace.

But that does not mean that all the work on the other deals has been stalled while waiting for Kariba South and Hwange Seven and Eight to start running.

The construction of the new Parliament Building in Mt Hampden, for instance, has had financial closure.

The Chinese side is now ready to move in once Government finishes constructing the access road. Work on the pharmaceutical hub, which is expected to give a new impetus to the country’s health delivery system, is just about to start.

The establishment of Special Economic Zones and industrial parks in partnerships with Chinese firms is now set to be realised. The implementation of the zones was being stalled by that there was no law facilitating their establishment.

Last year, Government worked with speed to enact the Special Economic Zones Act, which will facilitate the establishment of the special trade zones.

These zones also need enough electricity as they will depend on heavy industries and railway transport, which need adequate and uninterrupted supplies of power. This is why the priority of lighting up Zimbabwe with enough electricity is important in the matrix of the mutual cooperation with China.

Electricity is crucial in all aspects of development, especially in industrialisation, which goes hand in hand with transportation.

In fact, all types of industries, be they for mining, agriculture, goods, tools, vehicles, aircraft, machines, communication equipment, need electricity to function effectively.

The example of developed countries which prioritised electricity in their quest to improve themselves, should be emulated if Zimbabwe aims to progress to the next stage of its development.

It is a fact that many developing countries, with the exception of China and a few others, cannot generate enough electricity. And this has definitely affected their economic and social development.

Writing a paper for The Asia-Pacific Journal in 2012, John Mathews and Hao Tan indicated that China’s industrialisation would not have been realised without adequate electricity supply.

They argue that China’s electricity supply strategies have been very effective.

The strategy includes harnessing all the sources of energy — gas, wind, solar, hydro and thermal, etc — to ensure there is adequate supply.

Actually, in China, the development of power generation was important in fueling urbanisation, industrial growth and rising the standards of living.

Adequate electricity supply in the Asian country’s rural areas meant that industries that depended on raw materials from agriculture could easily be set up. This contributed significantly to the uplifting of the rural folk from poverty, as enough electricity supply facilitated the modernisation of agriculture.

Zimbabwe is exactly in the same state that China was three decades ago and can learn vital lessons from how the Asian country extricated itself from poverty.


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