Zimbabwe receives US$23 million infrastructure grant from China

zimbabwe sustainable sanitation flickrZimbabwe has received a US$23mn Chinese grant to finance infrastructure developments in rural areas, as well as the construction of schools and clinics

Patrick Chinamasa, Zimbabwean minister for finance and economic development, and Lin Lin, Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, signed the deal in Harare.

Chinamasa said the grant would be earmarked for the construction of clinics and primary and secondary schools in resettled areas acquired under the land reform programme. Other projects covered by the grant include borehole drilling and acquiring meteorological equipment.

Zimbabwe adopted a 'Look East' policy from 2005 as it increasingly relies on the emerging Asian economies, especially China, to offset sanctions. For the past three years, China has become Zimbabwe's top foreign investor, with bilateral trade growing to more than US$1.2bn in 2013.

Chinamasa said the grant was one of the results of his visit to Beijing at the end of December 2013, a few months after his appointment as minister.

"China has supported Zimbabwe in various forms, which include sizable chunks of grants, interest-free and concessional loans," he added.

Also known as ZimAsset, the five-year plan is the ruling Zanu-PF party's recipe for Zimbabwe's economic recovery, industry sources said.

The plan aims to achieve an average seven per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the five years ending in 2018 from an estimated 3.4 per cent in 2013. However, Zimbabwe needs US$27mn as an investment for the blueprints to materialise, and the nation cannot produce such finances alone, industry sources claimed.

Chinabasa said the two governments agreed that while they were working towards the conclusion of a comprehensive financial package within the next three months, the Chinese embassy would continue providing support for other programmes and projects.

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