Research reveals positive impact of Chinese investments in Zimbabwe

by Tafara Mugwara, Zhang Yuliang

A new research by a Zimbabwean think tank has revealed that Chinese investments in Zimbabwe have brought a positive trajectory for the country’s economic development.

Conducted by the Ruzivo Media and Resource Center, the study sought to look at how Chinese investments, both by the state and by private companies, have impacted Zimbabwe, and was presented at a seminar on Chinese Investments in Zimbabwe in Harare on Monday.

Presented by the think tank’s founder Tichaona Zindoga, the investigation sought to answer the following questions: What are China’s investments in Zimbabwe? Where are they? What are the quality, quantum, trends, trajectories, impacts, and implications?

In addition, the research sought to answer what impact Chinese investments bring, economically, socially, and politically, and the nature of relationships between Chinese businesses and various Zimbabweans.

An overwhelming majority of companies surveyed in the study began operating in the post-2000.

Among other findings, the research showed that China has invested in energy, real estate, transport, metals, health, utilities, and agriculture as well as manufacturing.

In addition, the research revealed that Chinese private investments are becoming a vital force in promoting Zimbabwe’s economy.

“In terms of our research, we interacted with colleagues from business associations and so forth, and we found out that there are more than 250 Chinese corporations operating in Zimbabwe as of 2022, with businesses ranging from state-linked and large corporations to small private investments,” said Zindoga.

The Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe, which has large companies, both State-linked and private, has over 80 companies in its books while the Zimbabwe Chinese Business Association has over 150.

The study revealed that Chinese investments in Zimbabwe have now reached up to 10 billion U.S. dollars, while employment by Chinese enterprises is over 100,000, according to the Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe.

The study surveyed a sample of large, medium, and small Chinese enterprises operating across the country and found out that the majority of Chinese companies had huge employment equity in Zimbabwe, with an average of 575 employees among the companies that gave their employment figures.

The researchers noted that there was an increase in investments in the mid-2000, and the post-2017 period, suggesting a strong attraction of Chinese investments to Zimbabwe.

However, Zimbabwe’s operating environment has been described as challenging for investors, according to the study.

“Some of the key challenges include currency, competition, language, labor relations, politics, and government bureaucracy,” said Zindoga.

Meanwhile, the study also revealed that Chinese companies in Zimbabwe have undertaken massive and diverse portfolios of corporate social responsibility programs.

“In terms of social investments, we have seen that Chinese companies, Chinese business people, have become huge philanthropists in Zimbabwe,” said Zindoga.

From the results analyzed, Chinese companies variably donate or invest amounts ranging from 5,000 to 1.1 million U.S. dollars per year, easily reaching an outlay of 18 million U.S. dollars for all Chinese social responsibility and community development programs across Zimbabwe in a year.

Speaking at the seminar, the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun assured China’s commitment to Zimbabwe’s development.

“China encourages more well-established and capable Chinese companies to invest in Zimbabwe, contribute to Zimbabwe’s development, and improve the volume and quality of investment. We are pleased that Chinese private investments are becoming vital forces in promoting Zimbabwe’s economy. The Chinese government will continue to support Zimbabwe’s socio-economic development within its best capacity,” he said.

In addition, Guo noted that China supports Zimbabwe to take an independent development path suitable to its national reality.

“China is still a developing country, and Chinese companies are also in the process of growth and maturity. They still need to further draw lessons from advanced experience and focus on self-improvement. The Chinese government has always required overseas Chinese enterprises to strictly comply with the laws and regulations of host countries, and fully respect local customs, traditions, and cultures,” said Guo.

Commenting on the launch of the study, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Industry and Commerce Sekai Nzenza said the seminar provides more avenues for China-Zimbabwe engagement.

“This platform allows us to leverage the historically strong relationship that Zimbabwe has with China,” Nzenza said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Frederick Shava said bilateral cooperation between Zimbabwe and China is bearing fruit.

“We have witnessed the exponential growth of investments in Zimbabwe by the Chinese government and its private sector,” he said.

“The Chinese business enterprises have contributed significantly to overall economic growth and increase in the Gross Domestic Product of the country through the creation of employment, infrastructure development, and modernization of the agriculture sector among others,” he said.

In addition, Shava said technical expertise and the transfer of know-how to local experts have increased productivity in the national economy.  – Source: Xinhua

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