China supports Zim’s innovation agenda with strategic investments and capacity building

China’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Zhou Ding, said as Zimbabwe’s largest source of foreign investment, the ‘Asian giant’ has been supporting local innovation development with strategic investments and capacity building.

To enjoy sustained innovation-driven development, the Chinese ambassador advised Zimbabwe to continue enhancing its business environment, invest in education to develop talent and maintain policy continuity to boost trade and investment. 

“China plays a key role in propelling Zimbabwe’s economic and social progress which has laid a solid foundation for Zimbabwe’s innovation-driven development. Hundreds of Chinese companies are operating in Zimbabwe and have generated tremendous forex, income tax revenue and hundreds of thousands of job opportunities in Zimbabwe,” said Ding at the International Business Conference held at the 64th edition of Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.

The business conference was running under the theme “Innovation: the Catalyst to Industrialisation and Trade.”

As Zimbabwe’s “comprehensive strategic partner,” the Chinese Ambassador said China is determined to support Zimbabwe in hosting capacity for innovation as the country implements President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s vision of  ‘Zimbabwe is open for business.’

“I hope our Zimbabwe friends will continue to improve its business environment, invest in education to nurture talents and to maintain policy continuity to boost trade and investment to enjoy a sustained innovation-driven development,” Ding said.

The ambassador said in the last couple of years, China has financed and built several key infrastructure projects and strengthened Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector.

He noted China has built a diesel iron and steel plant while they expected to invest more than US$1.55 billion to construct the largest steel plant in Sub-saharan Africa.

“In the mining sector, Chinese companies have invested more than US$1 billion making Zimbabwe an important player in the global new energy production and supply chain,” said the ambassador.

“Chinese investors have also built factories of electronic appliances, cement, tiles, fertiliser, clothing, contributing to the diversified expansion of Zimbabwe’s manufacturing industry.”

The ambassador said their Chinese embassy stand at ZITF was in support of the industrialisation of Zimbabwe. 

“I would like to advise guests to take a tour of it. You will be able to see some of the products that are made in Zimbabwe by Chinese enterprises or the joint ventures between Chinese and local companies,” Ding said.

Ding added that China has assisted Zimbabwe in innovation capacity and each year, the Asian giant invites hundreds of government officials, professionals in various areas and business leaders to attend capacity-building programmes. 

“Some Chinese educational and vocational institutions have partnered with their counterparts here, targeting Zimbabwe’s youth development and youth departments,” said the ambassador.  

“Chinese companies have continuously provided training for their employees on ICT, digital and management skills and at the same time making ICT services and products more accessible and affordable to local communities.”
The Chinese ambassador stated his government ‘highly’ values innovation in science and technology as the primary productive force, emphasising primary resources and innovation as the primary driver of economic growth, as he shared some of China’s practices and experiences in innovation-driven development.

“China has long been implementing an innovation-driven development strategy and has secured remarkable achievements,” Ding said. 

Ding said China keeps strengthening its capacity for scientific and technological innovation and according to the Global Innovation Index 2023 released by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), China ranks 12th in the world and is the sole middle-income economy with the GI top 30.

“China files nearly 70 000 international patents and applications, helping the world for many consecutive years,” said the ambassador.

“Second, China’s emerging industries are growing and lead the world in 5G network, new energies, new materials, electric vehicles, and high speed rail and are seeking faster application of new technologies such as cloud computing, big data and AI.”

The ambassador said China’s manufacturing sector is making steady progress while China now owns around 400 000 high-tech companies that provide quality products and competitive services at home and abroad.

“Electromechanical products now account for almost 60 percent of China’s total exports, while labour-intensive products like clothing, shoes, bags and toys account for 18 percent of China’s total exports,” Ding said.

Ding said China’s innovation progress is driven by the “strong support from the government,” which keeps optimising innovation policies and continues to improve the business environment for innovation driven businesses to grow and to compete based on market business.

“The Chinese government invests and encourages enterprises to invest in innovation. China has created a sound innovation ecosystem and solid foundation for innovation-driven development. Recently President Xi Jinping proposed a concept of new holiday productive forces, which was written directly into the Chinese government’s annual work report earlier this year,” explained the ambassador.

“New quality productive forces means advanced productivity that differentiates from traditional economic growth and features innovations by China, high efficiency and high quality. Guided by this concept China is endeavouring to generate new industries, new business models and made its traditional industries higher end and smarter and greater.  Its economic activities are more digitised, Internet-based and energy saving.” 

The Chinese ambassador said new quality, productive forces will serve as a catalyst to stimulate market vitality and unleash new market potentials of China while creating “massive” business opportunities for the whole world, including Zimbabwe.

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