Zambia Inks Project Agreements With China

MoUs were signed for renewables, technology and manufacturing projects.

By Sneha A on
15th September 2023

Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema presided over the signing of several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for strategic projects during his state visit to China from 10-16 September.

The president toured the country to encourage Chinese firms to invest in Zambia.

While in Beijing, the president also oversaw the signing of an engineering, procurement and construction contract between state-owned Zesco and PowerChina for a 100MW solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant in Kabwe, central Zambia - an investment estimated to be worth US$90 million.

Contact signing
Contract signing
Source: Twitter/X @HHichilema

An MoU was also signed between Zambia’s Ministry of Infrastructure, the National Housing Authority and China Jiangsu International Economic & Technical Corporation Zambia to cooperate on green housing. 

While in the city of Shenzen, President Hichilema witnessed the signing of an MoU with ICT solutions provider ZTE for the construction of a smartphone assembly plant in Zambia to manufacture affordable smartphones. 

An MoU was also inked with Huawei Technologies regarding digitalisation, which the president said “will see the country fully digitised for the benefit of our citizens, especially our rural communities”. 

In the province of Jiangxi, President Hichilema attended the Zambia Investment & Tourism Promotion Forum where Chinese firms committed to US$1.4 billion-worth of projects in Zambia. 

Zambia Development Agency director-general Albert Halwampa said Pingxiang Huaxu Technology had agreed to partner with a Zambian company to invest US$800 million in a wind and solar hybrid power project.

Halwampa stated that the project will comprise 1,000MW of wind power. A wind power equipment and components manufacturing plant will be set up as part of the project.

Halwampa also said US$450 million had been committed to build a solar PV project in Lusaka city and Jiangxi Special Electric Motor Company would invest US$290 million to manufacture lithium batteries in Zambia’s southern province.

During his state visit, President Hichilema invited various Chinese firms to partner with Zambia on projects. 

In Beijing, the president met with China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) and called for collaboration on rehabilitating the Tazara railway, a bi-national line offering freight and passenger transportation services between and within Tanzania and Zambia. 

“We would like a complete rehabilitation of Tazara," he said. "The line, which was constructed in the 70s, has seen its time. It needs, for example, its speed to be improved so we can move our goods and people much quicker.”

Zambia’s Minister of Transport & Logistics Frank Tayali said the railway’s council was targeting the first quarter of 2024 to revamp the Tazara network.

“[By then], we should have made serious advancements in [arranging] a concessionaire to run Tazara on a commercial basis, and that concessionaire will obviously be a Chinese company that will be expected to bring in not only their expertise but also locomotives as well as wagons,” he said. 

With regards to roads, President Hichilema said Zambia is working on the Ndola-Lusaka dual carriageway and the Lusaka-Livingstone-Kazungula bridge highway, and invited CRCC to consider investing in infrastructure development.

While in the province of Fujian, the president called on battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Company (CATL) to consider ways of upgrading the Tazara railway.

In the city of Shenzhen, the president toured the Yantian International Container Terminal and invited Chinese firms to partner with Zambia to develop its inland port infrastructure such as Mpulungu Harbour in the north. 

During his visit to Shenzhen, President Hichilema paid a visit to BYD and invited the electric vehicle manufacturer to consider investing in Zambia since the country has the mineral resources necessary for components. 

“Zambia is currently heavily stressed with petroleum bills, which has contributed to pushing the cost of living high, hence our intention to gradually migrate to electrical vehicles especially for public service transportation,” the Zambian government stated on Facebook regarding the meeting.  

President Hichilema also took part in talks with China's President Xi Jinping on areas of mutual interest including investments in energy, infrastructure, mining and manufacturing. 

At a meeting on 15 September, the two heads of state announced the elevation of China-Zambia relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

President Xi said he wanted to expand cooperation in infrastructure construction, agriculture, mining and clean energy.

Photo: Presidents Hichilema and Xi Jinping (Source: Facebook @ Hakainde Hichilema)

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