Zimbabwe and China are seeking increased cooperation in the southern African country’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector through increased investments from the Asian country.
China’s Eximbank has already approved a $218 million loan facility for state owned mobile company, NetOne to upgrade its data network. Chinese tech companies such as Huawei and ZTE are already active in Zimbabwe’s telecoms industry.
“We are seeking increased cooperation between our two countries, particularly in areas of ICT. Our two sides already have good cooperation in this sector and Chinese companies, Huawei and ZTE have been doing well here (building NetOne and Econet Wireless networks respectively,” said China’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin.
He met Zimbabwe’s new ICT Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira in Harare on Thursday to strengthen growing ties between the two countries in the telecommunications and technology sectors. Lin added that China was also exploring opportunities for training in ICT for young Zimbabweans.
“Chinese companies here can also start training courses here. We are urging Chinese companies in ICT to start investing in Zimbabwe, not only through loans provided through government to government cooperation,” the Chinese ambassador said the meeting.
Mandiwanzira said cash-strapped and investment-starved Zimbabwe had “a lot to benefit by engaging with China” and stressed that increased investment would lead to the creation of more jobs and “technology transfer”.
“We want to encourage Chinese investments to come in on the basis of commercially successful projects. If a Zimbabwean mobile company requires more capital and can demonstrate that it can pay back the loan, we don’t have to wait for a government guarantee for a Chinese company to invest,” said Mandiwanzira.
He said Zimbabwe offered an attractive market for ICT investors as people in the southern African country were frequently changing their mobile devices. He also said there were opportunities for computerisation and assembling of smartphones.
“We have people and kids in the rural areas who have never seen a computer. We have a majority of people still using feature phones and Chinese companies can come and assemble their smart devices and take up this market.”