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Zimbabwe govt secures multi-billion dollar investment from China

by Lovemore Chikova and Zvamaida Murwira
19 Apr 2016 at 23:43hrs | Views
THE government has secured a multi-billion dollar investment from China for the construction of more than 32,000 housing units countrywide in line with the economic blueprint Zim-Asset.

The investment deal also includes the expansion of existing towns and construction of new ones under different frameworks that include Build Operate and Transfer (BOT), loan facilities and special economic zones.

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) general manager in the Sadc region George Guan told our Harare Bureau in Beijing that discussions on financing of Phase 1 of the project were already underway.

This comes as another Chinese firm is on the verge of starting work on a housing project known as Magamba 2015 Housing in Harare South worth nearly $2 billion after completing feasibility studies and conducting an environmental impact assessment.

The projects are in line with deals signed between China and Zimbabwe during President Robert Mugabe's visit to the former in August 2014 which was reciprocated by his counterpart, Xi Jinping in December last year.

Chairperson of Hubei province, Zhang Chang'er is in the country leading a delegation of businesspersons, government officials and technocrats to explore ways to implement the projects.

Briefing journalists after meeting the Chinese delegation yesterday, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said the projects showed practical implementation of Zim-Asset and the 10 Point Plan enunciated by President Mugabe in September last year.

"We're happy that we're starting on a positive note. Now we're moving to the specifics to get the projects running, in housing, construction, sewer," said Minister Kasukuwere.

He said the projects would be implemented under BOT, loan facility and special economic zones.

"We need high rise buildings that don't eat into our land and our discussion centred on issues like skills transfer," said Minister Kasukuwere.

He explained the government's investment policy, particularly President Mugabe's clarification on indigenisation laws. He said the bulk of housing units would be constructed in Harare and Bulawayo with other towns earmarked for their share.

During the meeting, Zhang invited Zimbabwe to a business meeting to be held in China in June to further explore how the deals could be implemented.

"You can also bring your investment framework to the forum in June so that we hold further discussions and I'm hopeful that we can fall in love. We can engage further and get married to each other," said Zhang.

China is also expected to construct a state-of-the-art Parliament in Mount Hampden and Zhang is today expected to meet Speaker of National Assembly, Advocate Jacob Mudenda and Senate President Edna Madzongwe.

On the construction of housing units in the Harare South district, funding is being discussed between Chinese financial institutions and the Zimbabwean government, while CCECC, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation, will undertake the project.

"After signature of the commercial contract of Magamba 2015 Housing Project and with the constructive co-operation of the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, CCECC has accomplished the feasibility study and Environment Impact Evaluation for Phase I of the project," said Guan.

"The EIA has been submitted to governmental organisations for approval. And financing for Phase I of the project is under discussion among Chinese financial institutions and the Zimbabwean government."

Guan said his company would not take long before construction starts once the financial issues were put to closure. "Once the financing for the Phase I is closed, CCECC shall commence the construction of the project with due diligence and without delay," he said.

"CCECC shall, as we always have, engage qualified Zimbabwean sub-contractors and source construction materials from locally available suppliers to create job opportunities and contribute to the development of the Zimbabwean economy."

The housing project will enter into phased construction contracts separately, according to progress of the financing.

In an announcement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange last year, CCECC said the value of the contract for the Magamba 2015 Housing Project represented nearly two percent of its operating revenue.

The project, expected to benefit thousands of Zimbabweans, will go a long way in easing the country's more than one million housing backlog.

CCECC specialises in construction of railway, light rail, expressways, bridges, housing and buildings and municipal works in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and the Oceania.

The government has since launched the National Housing Delivery Programme under Zim-Asset that will see more than 300,000 housing units being built throughout the country in the five years up to 2018.

Under Zim-Asset provisions, Harare province is expected to deliver 105,935 houses by 2018, the Midlands (56,760), Matabeleland North (28,772), Mashonaland West (23,819), Manicaland (21,830), Masvingo (20,269), Mashonaland Central (16,607), Bulawayo (15,100), Matabeleland South (12,500) and 11,776 in Mashonaland East.

Source - Chronicle

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