The potential footprint of Chinese steel giant, Tsingshan Holdings, in Southern Africa – which will see it establish industrial parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique – has brought the two countries closer together.
Review & Mail can exclusively reveal that, banking on the US$1 billion steel plant in central Zimbabwe, a new trade and investment corridor is set to open between the two countries, while a number of downstream businesses are likely to crop up.
Further, the prospects brought about by the investment have attracted other countries such as the United States which are also planning their own investments to indirectly benefit from the vast opportunities arising from the groundbreaking investment by the Chinese firm.
Spurred on by these exciting possibilities, Zimbabwe and Mozambique recently resolved to upgrade their diplomatic relations from a Joint Commission into a Bi-National Commission, to position the two countries for what is likely to be Africa’s largest steel value chain, and the third in the world after China and Indonesia.
Cooperation between Harare and Maputo will enable the achievement of a long term vision of establishing a new port in Mozambique which will enable the country to cut costs incurred from using the Durban port which is currently being used for the project.
Speaking after touring the plant recently in Mvuma, Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa told stakeholders from the financial services sector: “It’s easily the largest project on the African continent and with a multiple effect on the railways and electricity.”
“Out of it, that’s why we have upgraded our relationship with Mozambique because of what is required by this project to work. There is now a Bi-National Commission which means they will now be asking for their incentives from the two governments through one door. The management of the investment will be relegated to a Special Commission between Maputo and Harare not to the two capitals because we want the speediest roll-out of an investment project ever on the African continent. That’s why the President was in Mozambique…to upgrade the relationship with Mozambique.”
Mutsvangwa also explained that Zimbabwe was going to have a vibrant lithium mining industry through its cooperation with Mozambique which would boost the car industry in an era of electric vehicles.
“The lithium industry is going to revolutionising the Zimbabwe mining industry. We have since requested the Mozambican government for 10 000 hectares of land to go and manufacture batteries for the car industry. We want to transition from the use of fossil fuels and that’s what probably Zimbabwe and Mozambique is going to do in the lithium industry. So that is another growth trajectory I want you to understand that we are building a world class company, whose technology at the forefront in both steel and batteries,” he said.
He added that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has completed the construction of a temporary line connecting the Mvuma iron and steel plant.
“ZESA is pulling the line from Sherwood in Kwekwe to here (Mvuma) because we can’t build blast furnaces without electricity. But power consumption is between 2000 and 5000 megawatts by them alone as their expansion goes so this is about one company being two times the consumption the nation. That’s what Zimbabwe is destined to be and this will in the process create a lot of jobs,” said Mutsvangwa.
The Chinese mining giant, fulfilled its pledge to develop upgrade the Manhize resettlement area and recently completed the building of three-bedroomed houses and a kitchen for the successful rolacation of those who were affected by the construction of the iron and steel plant.
Transformation of the Joint Commission between Harare and Maputo into a Bi National Commission last month cemented continued bilateral cooperation between the two countries in other fields of common interest over the coming years.
On the other hand, China has also emerged as a major foreign investor in Zimbabwe, with Chinese-owned countries having a vested interest across different sectors of the country’s economy especially with most of its firms involved in the mining of gold, chrome and diamonds among many others.
As part of President Mnangagwa’s agenda to make Zimbabwe a middle income economy by 2030, Zimbabwe set out an ambitious drive to create a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 which will be achieved by increasing output of gold, platinum and diamonds.