Chinese President Hu Jintao's expected visit to Zambia in early next month is "significant" in enhancing the cooperation, improving the bilateral relations and strengthening the existing friendship between the two countries, Zambia's Mines Minister Kalomo Mwansa told Xinhua News Agency in Lusaka on Monday in an exclusive interview.
"It's a very significant visit to Zambia that will enhance our cooperation, improve our relations to a higher level and strengthen the already existing friendship between our two countries," the minister said.
"This is a kind of visit we have been looking forward to for a very long time," he said.
President Hu will start on Tuesday a tour of eight African nations, Zambia being his fourth stop.
The visit, Mwansa said, will bring more Chinese investment and consequently strengthen the economic cooperation between the two countries.
"As a result of this visit, President Hu will bring in some businessmen who will come within to explore further business opportunities. I believe that there will be more Chinese investment coming after this visit," Mwansa said.
During his visit, Hu will inaugurate a China-Zambia economic cooperation zone in Kitwe, 400 km north of Lusaka, within which a copper smelter will be constructed by China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group, which is operating the Chambeshi Mine there.
Mwansa said the Chinese investment in the mining industry is very significant to Zambia and its people as the investment will bring in new technology to the sector and create more job opportunities to local people.
"We also benefit from the fact that the Chinese and Zambian people are getting closer and closer through this investment," he added.
The building of the US$200-million copper smelter will increase the country's capacity of copper processing, which will mean that most of the copper concentrate that is exported out of Zambia will be processed locally. Mwansa said this would give more jobs to Zambian people and add value to its copper production.
The economic cooperation zone, Mwansa said, will open up more investment to Zambia and make the country more attractive to investors.
"We hope that we will get more investment from China as the result of the opening of the economic cooperation zone, which will make our country more and more attractive," he said.
It is the first economic cooperation zone of its kind in Zambia, which is a good example that will propel others to emulate, the minister added.
Mwansa said both China and Zambia are benefiting from the economic cooperation between the two countries.
"It is a kind of mutual beneficial relationship," he said.
Chinese rapid economic growth will also bring benefit to Zambia as the two economies are strongly linked together, Mwansa said.
"The more the Chinese economy grows, the more the Chinese investment will flow to Zambia and the better it is for us. We'll definitely benefit from that growth," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2007)