The Governments of Zambia and China have recently exchanged notes on a project for the development of small national milling plants in Zambia, seeking to reduce mealie-meal prices and curve employment countrywide.
The project’s set down took place during the 2nd Zambia-China Joint Trade and Economic Committee meeting held in August in Lusaka, where Zambian Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda signed the agreement with Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce, Dr. Qian Keming.
The project seeks to set up the plants at a unit cost of USD 50,000 in all the country’s ten provinces to encourage farmers to cultivate their lands within their areas.
The object is to effectively mill the maize where it is produced to raise demand and push down mealie-meal prices.
The commodity is currently in the range from ZMW 68 to ZMW 75 per 25 kg bag according to a survey done by a local media, but it should not be over the ZMW 65 as set by the Zambian Food Reserve Agency (FRA) this year.
In addition, the project is expected to create more than 30,000 jobs by the end of 2015 according to the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ), a joint venture between the Zambian Government and local and foreign financial institutions, which support easier access to capital to small businesses and that is in charge of the project’s financing facility.
This agreement seeks to effectively solve the economic challenges that both countries are facing, explained Minister Chikwanda during his speech at the meeting.
He also highlighted the constant Chinese support in sectors as agriculture, health care, education, infrastructure and others that have helped the country to raise its bilateral balance trade with China from USD 21 million in 1995, to USD 3.8 billion at the end of 2014.
His peer, Vice-Minister Dr. Qian, stressed that the meeting is the outcome of a successful meeting held between Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Chinese President Xi Jinping on 30th March, 2015 in China on the first President Lungu’s trans-regional visit after assuming the office.
The bilateral relationship between China and Africa has growth quickly in the last years at a rate of 687% in the last ten years totaling a Chinese Foreign Investment (FDI) of USD 2.52 billion from which Zambia accounts for the 9.0% only behind South Africa receiving 22% according to the World Resources Institute (WRI).