Columnists Features

Chinese entrepreneurs court Zambia

ZAMBIA Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Geoffrey Sakulanda (left) with Chinese investors and Bank of China staff during the business-to-business meeting in Zhengzhou, China. PICTURE: BANK OF CHINA

IT IS a tale of two investors with different aspirations and challenges – one is a Zambian entrepreneur who needs to grow his business but lacks capital and technological know-how to do so.

The other one is a Chinese entrepreneur whose industry has reached its full capacity at home and is looking for new markets for its products.
Each of the two investors spends sleepless nights thinking about how best their challenges could be addressed, yet each one has potential to provide solutions to the other’s business challenges. All they need is to link up and cut a deal.
The Bank of China is aware of the diverse challenges entrepreneurs face in their quest to grow their businesses as well as expand to new markets. This is why they have come up with an initiative of linking Chinese investors to potential business partners in other countries.
For some time now, the Bank of China in Zambia, in partnership with the Bank of China in the industrial city of Zhengzhou in Henan Province, has been organising the Henan International Investment and Trade Fair, which aims at spurring cross border investment and trade projects, as well as strengthening domestic and overseas business cooperation.
Recently, the bank hosted over 400 Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) and other stakeholders from Zambia and across the globe in Zhengzhou. The region has over the past years gained momentum in economic growth and industrial restructuring in a bid to link investors to potential business destinations.
“The trade fair helps and supports our enterprises find business partners globally, develop international markets, bring in advanced technologies, and promote industry transformation.
“It also help enterprises worldwide to carry out cross border technology cooperation, find business opportunities, integrate to worldwide value chain,” said Henan Province governor Chen Runer during the opening ceremony of the trade fair.
The Zambian delegation included the Embassy staff in China, Zambia Development Agency, (ZDA), Zambia Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ZACCI), the Bank of China, Zambia office, State owned entities and entrepreneurs from various sectors. These had the opportunity to meet Chinese investors through business meetings with some entrepreneurs making fruitful business partnerships.
For instance AFE Limited, which is a local firm involved in the import and distribution of agricultural machinery and implements, is expected to partner with a Chinese investor in the establishment of an agricultural equipment assembling plant to provide affordable equipment to small-holder farmers.
The Chinese firm is expected to invest about US$10 million in AFE Limited.
Henan Construction Group Co. Limited, which is owned by the Henan provincial government and has been operating for the last 63 years, expressed interest to explore possibilities of partnering with Zambian companies in undertaking major infrastructure projects.
The firm has undertaken major infrastructure projects around the world, ranging from highways, convention centres, stadiums, hotels, sophisticated transport hubs such as airports and railway systems.
It has 32 subsidiaries that are involved in various sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, mining, health and education.
The company is ready to organise a special investment and trade mission to Zambia to explore further opportunities. In this regard, ZDA and the Ministry of Commerce also held preliminary talks with ZCCM-Investment Holdings (IH) as potential partners.
Similarly, Beijing TianCheng Ruiyuan Cable Company Limited, one of the largest manufacturers of assorted electric cables operating three large manufacturing bases in China, wants to set up a cable manufacturing plant in any multi-facility economic zone in Zambia to process copper into assorted cables.
They are looking at local companies, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) as potential markets for the copper cables.
Bank of China vice-president for the Henan Province branch Xu Jianhua noted that Zambia’s favourable investment climate and abundant natural resources will continue to attract Chinese investments across all sectors.
Mr Xu said with most Chinese firms seeking opportunities to expand their businesses and to enhance investment ties with Africa, countries like Zambia will remain preferred destinations.
“Chinese firms are looking for markets for investments and are looking to Africa, and Zambia is one of the countries they are considering because it has resources,” he said.
Bank of China president Chen Siqing said with the world economy slowly recovering from a slump, countries in need of foreign investment should take advantage of Chinese companies that are willing to expand their businesses abroad.
“China has become the engine of the world economy. The demand of Chinese companies willing to enter into global market, inclusion to the world industrial value chain, is increasingly growing. The affair is about providing enterprises domestically and overseas, a platform for knowing each other; support enterprises, share competitive advantages; cooperate deeply and ultimately achieve a win-win situation,” he said.
Mr Chen said the Bank of China being the most internationalised bank, remains committed to furthering international trade and cross-border investment.
To date, the Bank of China has held 29 cross-border fairs, attracting 20,000 enterprises from70 countries, thus helping companies to enhance trade, establish investments across borders, and achieving technological exchanges.
“In future, the Bank of China will continuously use the advantage of its linkages to enhance cross-border trade, play the important role of bringing enterprises together and helping more companies to enter into the global market. We will support more foreign companies to [do business in] Henan Province to share the benefits of globalisation,” he said.       
Zambia’s ambassador to China Winnie Chibesakunda said Zambia and other African countries should fully exploit the economic opportunities that China is offering to boost economic growth.
“We should take advantage of the pronouncement by People’s Republic of China leader in 2013 where he told investors from China to go global. Africa should take advantage of the over-capacity in China and access that potential, which exists in the provinces,” she said
Mrs Chibesakunda said the two governments will ensure a win-win situation from the Zambia-China business partnerships.
She explained that Zambia will benefit from the jobs that will be created by industries, while China will benefit from the raw materials that will be transformed into finished goods.
With concerted effort from all stakeholders, the two parties hope that investors from both countries will create linkages that will help benefit their economies and also further strengthen friendly ties.


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