The People’s Republic of China yesterday extended a $153 million loan facility to Zimbabwe for the upgrade of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, as the two countries continue to deepen their bilateral relationship.
The Asian giant also announced two grants for the construction of the New Parliament Building in Mount Hampden, including the High Performance Computing Centre being constructed at the University of Zimbabwe, taking the total to $213 million.
The loan and grants will be administered through the Export-Import Bank of China.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Mr Patrick Chinamasa and Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping signed the deal in Harare yesterday on behalf of the two Governments.
The $153 million loan, which carries a concessionary two percent interest rate, is payable over 20 years.
It also has a seven-year grace period.
Minister Chinamasa said Government expects the upgrading of the airport to boost tourist arrivals as is the case with the Victoria Falls Airport, which is experiencing a spike in arrivals after the completion of the refurbishment exercise.
“The Government of the People’s Republic of China also gave support to the people of Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“On the attainment of independence, we elevated the level of cooperation to economic. It is this relationship that we are all gathered this morning to witness.
“Let me also hasten to say that Zimbabwe has in the past received support targeting various projects in education, agriculture, energy, transport and communication. We remain thankful,” he said.
Funding for the projects was first announced after the State visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015.
“As you may be aware, this support springs from the State visit by his Excellency Xi Jinping on 1 December 2015, where he pledged to support the construction of a new Parliament. The new Parliament building will accommodate 650 members with room for expansion,” he said.
Ambassador Huang Ping said the Chinese are proud to be partnering Zimbabwe at this crucial socio-economic stage.
“It is my great honour to come and sign these three agreements on behalf of my government together with Honourable Minister Chinamasa, representative of the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, at this juncture of Zimbabwe’s socio and economic development.”
He added that China, as an all-weather friend, will continue to support the Zimbabwean Government “through thick and thin”.
“We have a very good traditional friendship, we want to strengthen this good relationship and expand our cooperation to all the sectors,” he said.