HARARE – Billions of United States dollars in Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) can flow into Zimbabwe if the southern African country addresses several hurdles that confront investors from that country on arrivals in Harare, a top Chinese diplomat has said.

China’s Charge d’Affaires in Harare, Zhao Baogang hinted that the southern African country was missing huge opportunities from the world’s second largest economy as a result of unfulfilled promises, delays in allocating land for Chinese corporations to establish businesses and Harare’s failure to resolve a serious power crisis the has been affecting industrial output.

He said Zimbabwe was among a range of countries earmarked to benefit from at least US$150 billion in Chinese FDI, which will be deployed into several economies in the coming years.

But in the absence of steps to correct these shortcomings, Chinese FDI would remain elusive while neighbouring countries benefit, Baogang told delegates at the Zhe Jiang-Zimbabwe Cultural and Tourism Conference in Harare last week.

“Last year, Zimbabwe attracted US$487 million in FDI, other countries got billions of dollars. In Zimbabwe, they ask me why Chinese businesses are not coming. But the Chinese come here and they encounter problems, promises are not fulfilled. They come here and they don’t find land. They come here and they don’t find electricity. This needs to be addressed. If they come here and succeed then billions in investment (will come) for Zimbabwe and relations will improve,” noted Baogang.

“Zimbabwe can approach Chinese businessmen to develop the economy because China is the world’s second largest economy. The Chinese are going to the world, they are going everywhere. Everywhere you go you see the Chinese. In the coming year China will deploy US$150 billion to foreign countries including Zimbabwe. You need capital. Go to China. They have the resources to develop and they have the secret to development,” he told the conference. 

Relations between Zimbabwe and China were significantly affected when former president Robert Mugabe expropriated diamonds miner, Anjin Investments-a Chinese firm-and incorporated into the Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Corporation, a State-run outfit that has recently been in the limelight for graft and abuse office allegations.

China has extended US$2,5 billion in loans, investments and grants to Zimbabwe in the past few years.

The US$2,5 billion was among the biggest such commitments in Africa, and reinforced the world’s second largest economy’s ambition to propel third world economies to stability.

Analysts say China takes its growing relations with Zimbabwe seriously, and would use its global influence to help the southern African country get out of sanctions imposed by western powers in 2002.

In the coming year, China and Zimbabwe would put into action bilateral relations, which were last year elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Cooperation-a vital signature of China’s commitment to work with a given country.

“Some US$2,5 billion of loans, investments and grants have been provided by the Chinese government, financial institutions and enterprises to Zimbabwe, (a) much larger share than most other African countries,” Baogang recently.

“(The) Kariba South expansion project has been completed, adding 300MW (megawatts) power generation capacity to the national grid. We have launched (the) ground-breaking ceremony for the Hwange Thermal Power Station expansion project.

“We have launched the ground-breaking ceremony for the Robert Mugabe International Airport rehabilitation project. We have launched the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of (the) new Parliament building. Zimbabwe will have the capacity to export electricity to earn the much-needed hard currency very soon. The secrets and resources for Zimbabwe’s development can be found in China,” said the Chinese diplomat.

The US$553 million Kariba power plant expansion kicked off six years ago.

It was completed last year, in time to help Zimbabwe avert a deteriorating power crisis that had forced authorities to import about half of its electricity from the region to power its ailing industries.