The Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ) launched a sub-zone in the Zambian capital of Lusaka on Thursday, promising millions of US dollars of fresh investment despite the ongoing financial crisis.
The Lusaka sub-zone, situated several miles away from the Lusaka International Airport in the east of the capital, was inaugurated by Zambian President Rupiah Banda in the presence of visiting Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of the sub-zone, Banda spoke highly of the "all-weather" friendship between Zambia and China, saying that China has always come to render her help to Zambia during the difficult times.
"The launch would have not come at a better time than now when the global financial meltdown has exerted massive pressure on most economies in both developed and developing worlds," Banda said.
"(Therefore) the construction of this sub-zone I am to launch today is a clear testimony of the commitment made by Chinese President Hu Jintao at the end of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in November 2006," said Banda.
The Lusaka sub-zone is part of ZCCZ's efforts to extend its business sphere. President Banda said it will have a linkage to the rest of Zambia's economy as investors in the zone will source most of the products and services locally, helping boost the country's value-added industries.
"The single and simple act of unveiling the zone will change the face of the Lusaka East and indeed the Zambian economy," Banda said, "our raw materials will now have chance to enjoy value addition."
Banda also encouraged Chinese investors to team up with local entrepreneurs in establishing partnership in the zone. "This is important for our citizens' empowerment programs and to enable Chinese companies to tap local expertise, knowledge and culture," he said.
Speaking at the same function, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen re-affirmed China's commitments to supporting Zambia's economic development agenda.
Chen said that China will work hand in hand with Zambia in enhancing economic trade between the two sister countries.
He further stated that the Chinese government would continue supporting Zambia in its various development programs, adding that China will work hard to build the ZCCM into one of the best investment facilities in Africa.
The ZCCM was jointly launched by Chinese President Hu and late Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa almost two years ago. It now hosts ten Chinese firms in the main zone of Chambishi, Copperbelt Province, which has created more than 3,500 local jobs.
According to ZCCM's development roadmap, more than 50 companies will come and invest in the main zone after its completion.