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China halts infrastructural projects in Zimbabwe

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Chinese financial institutions have suspended the funding of three big infrastructural projects of about US$1.324 billion after the government of Zimbabwe raided and diverted US$10m from an escrow account for the Robert Mugabe International Airport expansion project.

The affected infrastructural projects include the US $1.1 billion Hwange 7 and 8 refurbishment project, the US$71 million NetOne expansion project and US$153 million Robert Mugabe International Airport expansion; which are at various stages of implementation. They were being funded through various loan facilities secured from the China Eximbank and other financial institutions.

Robert Mugabe International Airport

The seized funds, which were converted by government, through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) into the local unit, were raided from an account holding investment capital for the expansion of the airport at the beginning of the year where the airport project was being undertaken by Jiangsu International and getting funds through a concessional loan facility from

Once the airport is operational, the project will transform it into a modern facility, which will increase its capacity from handling two million travellers to about six million annually.

Hwange 7 and 8 refurbishment

When completed, the expansion of the Hwange plant, which is 22% complete, is expected to add 600MW to the national grid. The project has created 3 000 jobs since commencement last year and is set for completion in 2023. The project is being implemented by Sinohydro, one of the largest construction companies in the world.

NetOne expansion project

The NetOne project was meant to expand the company’s (NetOne) mobile telecommunications network through setting up and upgrading base stations across the country.

The suspended projects are among the several multi-billion dollar sectoral infrastructural deals China lined up for Zimbabwe when President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited Beijing where he met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2018.

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