Zambia and others scrambling for China’s $60 billion pledge
By Jeff Kapembwa
LUSAKA – Zambia has joined several African countries seeking loans and grants from the $60 billion three-year funding from China under the Forum on China-Africa Corporation (FOCAC) to undertake economic revitalisation on the continent.
Zambia, like Botswana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, has joined the race and is seeking $8 billion financial assistance from China to fund infrastructure development.
“Zambia has submitted a request from China in excess of $8 billion in loans and grants to undertake infrastructure development for roads, bridges, energy as well as rehabilitating and construction of hospitals,” Yang Youming, the Chinese ambassador in Zambia told The Southern Times recently.
Yang said several African countries have expressed willingness to secure funding for various projects as the disbursement takes off this year under a 15-year-programme.
Project proposals are being evaluated and approved by the Chinese government based on merit, he said.
Interest rates on the loans will vary between 0.8 percent and 15 percent, according to the Chinese diplomat.
“Zambia is not the only country whose financial proposals we are looking at and doing feasibility studies. Many countries like, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria and others want to be financed to carry out various national developmental projects,” said Yang, adding that many proposals under scrutiny were impressive.
Zimbabwe has sought financial assistance from China through FOCAC with the economic co-operation between Harare and Beijing expected to soar this year, according to reports.
Most of the deals signed between Harare and Beijing are at various stages of implementation.
This follows President Robert Mugabe having met his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping in Beijing with the Oriental state’s leader making a firm pledge to enhance economic co-operation between the two countries and also committing to complete implementation of the mega deals. President Xi also visited Zimbabwe two years ago.
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Hi Huang Ping is cited as saying everything points to greater co-operation between Zimbabwe and China in 2017 following the meeting between President Mugabe and President Xi.
In Botswana, the diamond rich country is currently negotiating with China to secure funding from the $60 billion being tangled by China under FOCAC, according to media reports citing Chinese Embassy director of political section in Botswana, Tang Shenping.
The two countries have held several rounds of meetings to push forward the implementation of the follow-up actions and that Botswana is not an exception as some African countries are also struggling and still yet to commit to the agreement.
During the sixth FOCAC conference hosted by South Africa in December 2015, Chinese President Xi told African leaders that the financing was being made available for the continent in loans and grants.
Xi said the gesture was in illustration and commitment by China to foster and uphold existing ties with African nations.
Trade relations between China and African countries have since the formation of FOCAC in 2000 grown from a humble beginning, recording a sharp rise until after 15 years later as China’s economy continues to grow economically.
This has in turn helped bolster trade volumes which have more than trebled in excess of 700 percent to over 700 percent since the early 1990s.
The increasing relationship between China and various African states, all because of these ever increasing trade ties, led to the more harmonised way of doing business, the creation of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in October 2000 as an official knot to tighten and strengthen the relationship, a bond which has remained intact to date.