China to help Zimbabwe build sepcial economic zones

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CHINA will help Zimbabwe build special economic zones and industrial parks to jump-start exports and a struggling economy, its ambassador to Harare said on Thursday as a Chinese firm started expanding the country’s largest hydro-power plant.
The pledge by Beijing’s top envoy to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, comes days after President Robert Mugabe returned from a trip to China during which he sought financial help and investment from the world’s number two economy.
Lin told Mugabe during a ceremony to mark the start of work to expand Kariba hydropower station that Beijing was ready to deepen bilateral relations.
Investors in the zones will benefit from special tax breaks and officials said they would not have to comply with black economic empowerment laws that force foreign companies to sell majority shares to black Zimbabweans.
“China is ready to take part in the construction of Zimbabwe’s special economic zones and industrial parks, lead the cooperation in infrastructure construction, mining industry, manufacturing industry and other fields and encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Zimbabwe,” Lin said.
The $355 million upgrade of the Kariba South power plant would boost output to 1,050 megawatts from the current 750MW.
President Robert Mugabe said the expansion of Kariba South “would provide the nation additional and cheaper electricity for both industry and commerce, and as a result, attract investment to Zimbabwe.”
Energy minister, Dzikamai Mavhaire said load shedding would cease upon completion of the project in 2017.
“We are determined to make load shedding a thing of the past,” he said.
China’s Export Import Bank is funding the project to the tune of $320 million while the balance is being met by Zimbabwe Power Company through borrowings.
Zimbabwe currently generates half of its 2,200 megawatt peak demand.
Shunned by Western countries since 2000 over charges of human rights abuses and election rigging, Mugabe has increasingly embraced a “Look East” policy.
However, during Wednesday’s session of parliament, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa dismissed suggestions Mugabe had gone to Beijing to beg for loans backed up by promises of shares in future mineral resources.Advertisement