Sunday, December 29, 2019

Chinese Firm Sets Big Target for Norton Venture
29 DEC, 2019 - 00:12
Kuda Bwititi
Chief Reporter
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Chinese tile manufacturing company Sunny Yi Feng, one of the largest investors in Zimbabwe this year, intends to increase its portfolio by diversifying into new products at its Norton plant.

In 2019, the company invested US$40 million into a tile manufacturing venture, which has transformed Norton and created thousands of jobs.

About 2 000 workers are employed at the plant with more people set to get jobs through the planned expansion.

Construction of the manufacturing plant was completed at a breakneck speed, showing the efficiency of the Chinese in implementing projects.

The company is an example of the positive outputs of the friendly relations between Zimbabwe and China after bilateral ties were elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership under President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, China’s Acting Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Zhao Baogang, said Sunny Yi Feng planned to venture into furniture production, in addition to tiles.

“One of the main investments this year was the Sun Yi Feng tile manufacturing factors in Norton. The company’s plan was to invest more than US$120 million,” he said.

“So far, it has invested US$40 million for tile manufacturing. They have now put in place another line of production for tableware, plates and cups.”

Mr Zhao said the company planned to export some of its products to the region, to earn foreign currency for the country.

“They are planning to export their products to neighbouring countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. We expect the company to become an important foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe because we know that the country needs foreign currency,” he said.

Mr Zhao appealed to Government to continue working with the company to protect the interests of the investor and motivate other Chinese companies to invest in the country.

“Investments are a very important part of bilateral relations. We also encourage Chinese companies to come to Zimbabwe. We hope that the Zimbabwean Government will continue working to protect this investor.

The company started producing tiles in May and by August it had reached an output of 30 000 square metres per day against an installed capacity of 35 000 square metres of tiles per day.

Speaking during a recent tour of the plant, the company’s officials said they had plans to invest in an industrial park where everything required in the construction process, except steel and cement, would be sourced.

Sunny Yi Feng also plans to empower employees by constructing houses and a shopping mall near the plant to reduce transport costs.

To date an application for land has since been made with Government in turn requesting the company to consider selling the houses to staff when constructed.

Sunny Yi Feng has since expressed its commitment to sell the houses to its employees as an empowering mechanism.

China is currently bankrolling the majority of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure projects including Hwange Unit 7 and 8 expansion, refurbishment of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and constructing of the New Parliament building in Mt Hampden.

In recent years, China has lined-up multi-sectoral billion-dollar investment projects for Zimbabwe, covering mining, manufacturing and hospitality sectors.

The two countries enjoy warm relations that date back to the pre-Independence era when the Asian giant provided material and logistics support to liberation fighters.

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