Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter
China continues to press ahead with helping Zimbabwe accelerate development with the critical input of needed infrastructure.
This year there is the launch of the second phase of the high performance computing centre plus the nearing completion of three landmark infrastructure projects at Mt Hampden, NatPharm and Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport .
Zimbabwe launched the first high performance computing centre in 2015 with the aim to address the computational requirements of the scientific community funded partially through a US$5,4 million interest-free loan from the Chinese Government.
The Government, through financial aid from the Chinese Government has also completed the state-of-the-art Parliament Building in Mt Hampden and the new NatPharm warehouse at Sally Mugabe Hospital, which now awaits commissioning by President Mnangagwa.
Work on the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport expansion is now at an advanced stage, while construction of the VVIP pavillion has begun.
Speaking during a tour of the three projects with Foreign Affairs Minister Fredrick Shava yesterday, Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun said infrastructure was the foundation of development for Zimbabwe and other African countries.
“Infrastructure is also the image of each country, so this is the oracle that China will give to the bilateral cooperation between our two countries. In the future China and Zimbabwe will work together to explore more areas of bilateral cooperation. In the meantime, China and Zimbabwe will have more cooperation in the high-tech area,” he said.
“This year we will see the launch of the construction of phase two of the Zimbabwe Centre for High Performance Computing. Through the upgrading and expansion of the high performance computing centre, Zimbabwe will enjoy stronger ability to prevent and reduce disasters.”
The computing centre is used to process the ever larger quantities of data needed in mining and mineral exploration, defence and security, bio-informatics, human genome research focusing on drugs, disease detection and prevention in the health sector.
Ambassador Guo said the three projects that are nearing completion were important for China-Zimbabwe cooperation.
Now there was also room for trade and cooperation in the agriculture sector through exports of produce from Zimbabwe to China.
“An agreement between Zimbabwe and China has been signed on the export of Zimbabwean citrus to China. This kind of cooperation is a policy support and we hope that through such kind of support, more Zimbabwean agriculture products will be exported to China,” the Ambassador said.
He expressed gratitude to Government for the long term support of the China-Zimbabwe cooperation and friendship.
Speaking on the China-Zimbabwe cooperation, Minister Shava said the projects being spearheaded by the Chinese Government would go a long way in the achievement of the National Development Strategy 1 goals.
“China is our all-weather friend and they are carrying out three major projects and all of them have a lot of meaning to Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans. The Robert Mugabe International Airport is a project being undertaken by the Chinese government to improve our airport. When we situate ourselves in the SADC region, this international airport will mean a lot to the country and will attract a lot of airlines to fly to Zimbabwe,” he said.
He said the new Parliament building in Mt Hampden and the new NatPharm warehouse were also key projects that would make a difference in the conduct of business in the country.
On completion, the RGM International Airport will become a regional aviation hub, able to handle about six million passengers annually from the 2,5 million passengers currently being handled.
The Parliament building is a six-storey building and will house the Senate chamber and the House of Assembly in considerably more suitable facilities to allow legislators to do their job better in addition to a multi-purpose gallery and offices.
The new NatPharm facility in Harare was funded through a US$25 million grant from the Chinese Government and on completion it will hold approximately 10 000 pallets of medicine.
The warehouse is anticipated to make recording, storage and stock-taking easy as its systems will be computerised as opposed to the current manual set-up.
NatPharm procures medicines and medical supplies for all public health institutions and mission hospitals in Zimbabwe and needs proper storage facilities to ensure safety and quality of supplies, as well as being able to supply the medicine in the quantity needed as each hospital and clinic places its order.