The Sunday News
Alpha Pesanai , Correspondent
CHINA, a nation with a rich history and diverse culture, has emerged as a prominent player on the global stage in recent decades.
Today we will delve into the various aspects of the contribution of China to African countries and also examine its economic growth, political influence and social progress. As a country, Zimbabwe has benefited a lot from the contributions of China particularly in the critical infrastructure development sector that has changed the lives of many people in the country. The Look East Policy has been a game changer for Zimbabwe’s economic and social development over the years since the deliberate policy was adopted by the Government.
The National Pharmaceutical Warehouse is one of the many projects that feature Chinese aid to Zimbabwe, along with several projects in agriculture, water, energy, infrastructure, education and health sectors.
China’s remarkable economic growth has been a key factor in its rise as a global player. According to the World Bank, China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has consistently grown at an average rate of 9,5 percent between 1981 and 2019. This rapid development has lifted millions of people out of poverty, making China the world’s second-largest economy.
Such economic success has led to China being recognised as a major player in international trade and investment, a characteristic often associated with Global South countries.
China’s involvement in Africa has been a subject of extensive research and debate in recent years. As the world’s second-largest economy, China has significantly influenced the development of many Africancountries. One significant area where China has made a substantial impact on African development is infrastructure.
Through the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has invested heavily in building roads, railways, ports, and power plants across the African continent. These infrastructure projects have not only improved connectivity within African countries but have also enhanced trade and economic growth by facilitating the movement of goods and people within the African continent.
China has been actively involved in several development projects in Zimbabwe, significantly impacting the country’s infrastructure, economy and social development.
One of the prominent projects initiated by China is the construction of the Kariba South Hydropower Expansion Project. This project aimed to increase the power generation capacity of the Kariba Dam, which is vital for Zimbabwe’s energy needs. As a result of this project, an additional 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity was added on the national power grid addressing the country’s power deficit and fostering economic growth. A Chinese firm, Sinohydro undertook the Hwange Thermal Power Station Unit 7 and 8 expansion project that has added 600MW to the Hwange Thermal Power Station, the country’s largest coal-fired power plant. This has seen the incidents of load shedding significantly reducing across the country.
China handed over a multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art pharmaceutical warehouse in April 2022 to the Zimbabwean Government, which is set to boost Zimbabwe’s drug storage capacity and improve its health delivery system. Constructed and funded by the Chinese Government, the project cost US$22 million and is situated at the country’s second largest referral hospital, Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, in Harare.
Construction of the warehouse by China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group Limited (AFECC) began in 2019 and was completed in April 2022.
China has also made substantial investments in Zimbabwe’s transport infrastructure. The rehabilitation and expansion of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare is a notable example. This project enhanced the airport’s capacity to handle larger aircraft, promoting tourism and facilitating regional and international trade volumes.
Zimbabwe’s economy is agro-based and assistance in improving this sector is always welcomed with both hands. China has been actively involved in the agricultural sector of Zimbabwe. The Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre in Harare was established with Chinese assistance and focuses on improving agricultural productivity through the introduction of modern farming techniques and technologies. This project has contributed to enhancing food security and increasing agricultural yields in the country across all the 10 provinces.
China’s involvement in Zimbabwe’s development extends beyond physical infrastructure. The Confucius Institute, established at the University of Zimbabwe, promotes Chinese language and culture, fostering cultural exchange and educational co-operation between the two nations.
These projects signify China’s commitment to supporting Zimbabwe’s development agenda as outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1). China’s political influence has expanded significantly in recent years. The country’s rise as a global power has been accompanied by increased involvement in international organisations and initiatives. For instance, China has become a leading member of the BRICS group which comprises of (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and Zimbabwe has expressed its interest in joining the block. This group represents emerging economies from the Global South. Additionally, China has been actively involved in promoting South-South co-operation through platforms such as the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC).
These actions demonstrate China’s commitment to strengthening ties with other Global South countries and contributing to their development.
China’s involvement in development projects in Zimbabwe has made significant contributions to the country’s infrastructure, economy, and social development. From hydropower expansion to transport infrastructure and agricultural advancements, these projects have played a vital role in addressing various developmental challenges that were being faced by the country and will see that the country attains its Vision 2030 target of an upper middle-income economic status that leaves no one behind in terms of development by the year 2030.
*Alpha Pesanai is a Member of the Project Management Institute (USA) and is a Project and Development Management Specialist. He holds a Master of Social Science Degree in Public Policy and Development Management, Bachelor of Social Science Honours Degree in Monitoring and Evaluation Studies, Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree in Finance and an Executive Certificate in Project Management. He can be contacted via e-mail [email protected].