The Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone situated is the first economic and trade cooperation zone established by China in Africa. (Xinhua) (dtf)

LUSAKA - Chinese ambassador to Zambia, Li Jie, announced on Thursday that the Chinese government will provide a $30 million (R441m) grant to Lusaka's economic and trade cooperation zone for the upgrading the electricity supply as the Asian economic powerhouse's "One Belt, One Road" initiative continues to make further inroads in infrastructure development projects in the country. 

The Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone situated in Lusaka, is the first economic and trade cooperation zone established by China in Africa. The zone accommodates over 50 enterprises which has attracted nearly $1.9 billion of investment, earning more than $14 billion of sales revenue totally, and creating  8 000 job opportunities.

Speaking at the Partnership for Investment and Growth in Africa (PIGA)  event  in Lusaka, Jie said that the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries had gained a new luster and was transforming from government-led to market-oriented, from commodity trade to industrial capacity cooperation, and from projects contracting to investment and operation. 

"The Chinese government will provide a 200 million RMB ( About $30 million) grant to Lusaka East MFEZ of Zambia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone for the upgrading the electricity supply. In that case, Zambia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone will play a more active role in promoting China-Zambia industrial capacity cooperation and Zambia's industrialisation development," Jie said. 

"The Beijing Summit has provided a new driving force for deepening China-Zambia win-win cooperation." 

In 2017, bilateral trade volume between China and Zambia reached $3.79 billion, a 41.74 percent year-on-year. 

At the Beijing Summit last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will implement the eight major initiatives with African countries in the next three years, covering fields of industrial promotion, infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, green development, capacity building, health care, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. 

Jie said that the newly signed project contracts amounted to $4.86 billion  which ranked the 6th of Africa, while China’s new investment of $281 million to Zambia in 2017 remained the second largest in Africa. 

"A large number of strategic projects have been pushed through smoothly China-Zambia," Jie said. 

"China is ready to work with the Zambian side together to align the development strategies, implement the results of Beijing Summit, and push the China-Zambia relationship to a higher level, bring more and better benefits to the two countries and peoples, and jointly ushered in a new era of China-Zambian cooperation."

Zambia is now China's third largest trade partner in southeast Africa, while China has become Zambia's second largest export destination and third largest source of imports.

Dorothy Tembo, deputy executive director of the International Trade Centre, said that  more Chinese investment were required in productive sectors such as light manufacturing and agro-processing in order to generate more jobs for the locals and help Zambia achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

"The meeting held today is highly relevant and very timely towards achieving this objective. It is also fully aligned with the strategy of the Zambia government. The Zambia Vison 2030 has identified the promotion of investment as one of the key strategies for attaining its objective to become a prosperous middle income nation," Tembo said. 

"In this regard, it prioritizes attracting foreign direct investment in productive sectors with a view of entrenching knowledge and technology among the local people."

-African News Agency (ANA)