ZAMBIA will soon send a delegation to Beijing to present projects for possible funding under the US$60 billion which China committed to Africa’s development, Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba has said.
China pledged the support at the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg, South Africa last December.
Mr Kalaba and his delegation have held bilateral talks with the Chinese and British envoys ahead of the 26th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).
In his opening remarks in a meeting with Zhang Ming, China’s permanent representative to the AU, Mr Kalaba said Zambia wants to realise the full benefits of the US$60 billion windfall, and will in March send a team to Beijing with a list of specific projects that the country wants to undertake.
“Very soon we will be sending a team to Beijing to present our case. Zambia has come up with a broad range of projects. We want to improve our roads and railways. We are also looking at investments in the energy sector, with particular focus on alternative sources of energy,” Mr Kalaba said.
He thanked the Chinese government for increasing funding to Africa, comprising grants and concessional loans, from the US$20 billion offered at the last FOCAC meeting held in Beijing in 2012 to US$60 billion in 2015.
Mr Kalaba, who was flanked by Minister of Gender Nkandu Luo, expressed Zambia’s desire to maximise the benefits from the US$60 billion in various sectors.
He said Zambia and China, through China Development Bank (CDB), signed a loan agreement of US$418 million to finance the rehabilitation of roads on the Copperbelt under the C-400 project within the auspices of FOCAC.
The minister said the Zambian government has come up with priority projects for financing under the FOCAC framework, namely infrastructure development, including broadband communication network, construction and rehabilitation of the existing railway network to increase the speed of trains and reduce pressure on road usage.
In the energy sector, Mr Kalaba said Zambia wants investment in alternative energy sources such as wind, bio-mass, thermal, geo-thermal and solar.
Proposed projects in the tourism sector are the construction of a five-star and three-star hotels in Lusaka and Livingstone.
He also told Mr Zhang, who is China’s deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, that agriculture, with emphasis on agro-processing, is another sector needing more investment.
Mr Zhang said his government will welcome the delegation that Zambia will be sending to China soon.
He said President Lungu paid a successful visit to China last year and his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Johannesburg FOCAC last December has consolidated bilateral ties between the two countries.
“We have reached consensus to deepen bilateral relations with Zambia. It’s up to our ministers to implement the consensus that our two Presidents have reached,” Mr Zhang said.
Mr Kalaba and Mr Zhang later went into a closed-door meeting.
He later met the United Kingdom Minister for Africa, the Overseas Territories and the Caribbean, James Duddridge.