Photo taken on Aug. 21, 2014 shows the general view of the dam of Kariba hydropower station in Zambia. The constructor China's Sinohydro Corporation delivered Thursday the Zambian Kariba North Bank Power expansion project to Zambia in Siavonga, southern Zambia. The project includes two 180 megawatt generators. (Xinhua/Peng Lijun)
LUSAKA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- The commissioning of works to construct a new international airport in Zambia's Ndola city in the Copperbelt Province recently goes to exemplify Chinese efforts to help Zambia's infrastructure development drive.
The 397 million U.S. dollars project, being undertaken by Chinese contractor AVIC International and funded by the Export and Import Bank of China, is but one among other projects China has funded as Zambia rolls out its infrastructure projects.
The new airport will not only boost the economic prospect of the province but also add to the improvement in the country's infrastructure landscape.
The project, to be completed within three years, involves a 12,000 square meter modern terminal building, a 3.5 kilometer runway, cargo terminal as well as a hotel.
"I am sure that the new airport will significantly improve traffic connections of the Copperbelt both within Zambia and with Zambia's neighboring countries, thus promote more trade exchanges, attract more foreign investment, and increase flow of goods and personnel," Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming said in remarks delivered during the launch of construction works in June this year.
His comments have been supported by Zambian President Edgar Lungu who feels that the project will result in the creation of jobs in the province and boost the economic prospect of not only the province but the entire country as a whole.
According to him, around 3,000 jobs will be created during the project's construction, and 5,000 jobs are expected to be created once the project is completed.
The Zambian leader noted that his government has prioritized infrastructure development because no development could take place without good infrastructure.
"Government has prioritized transport and communication because it is critical for development. For us to diversify the economy, we must construct infrastructure necessary for the level of develop we envision," he said.
Infrastructure development has been at the core of Zambia's development agenda since 2011 when the Patriotic Front (PF) came into power after winning the elections, and there is no doubt that the Chinese government and enterprises have been playing an important role in driving the agenda.
In another case, the expansion project at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the country's capital is underway with funding support from China. The project is expected to be completed by 2019.
According to Mweembe Sikaulu, spokesperson of the Zambia Airports Corporation, the country's biggest airport would have a new international terminal, air traffic control tower, rescue and fire services as well as two hotels within the airport.
The 360 million dollars Chinese-funded project will result in an improvement in passenger-handling capacity from the current two million to six million passengers.
PIVOTAL CHINESE ROLE IN ZAMBIA'S INFRASTRUCTURE
From the Mongu-Kalabo Road, a 34 kilometer road with 26 bridges across it and constructed by China's Avic International in the western part of the country to the development of other infrastructure such as hydropower projects and modernization of airports, it is clear that China and Chinese enterprises have played a pivotal role in improving Zambia's infrastructure landscape.
China's imprint in Zambia's infrastructure development stretches back to the historical construction of the Tanzania Zambia Railway, which was constructed in the 1970s and the Tuta Bridge in northern Zambia, which is still the longest Chinese-aided bridge of its kind in Africa.
China has also helped Zambia have ultra-modern stadiums through the financing and construction of the 50,000 capacity National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, the country's capital and the 49,800 capacity Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola city on the Copperbelt Province.
"We are indeed grateful to China for the wonderful work they are doing to help us in our infrastructure projects. For instance, we did not dream that we will ever have a big stadium like Heroes but thanks to China, they helped us have one," Ben Zulu, a 46-year-old resident of Lusaka, the country's capital said.
He added that there is no doubt that Chinese contractors were doing a good job each time they are given construction jobs in the country.
His views were supported by another Lusaka resident Isaac Ngenda, who hailed the hardworking culture of the Chinese contractors.
According to him, Chinese contractors are dedicated to their work and have been able to complete projects on time.
Michael Nyirenda, immediate past president of the Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors also hailed China's contribution to Zambia's infrastructure development.
"It is right to say that China and Chinese contractors have done a lot in helping Zambia's infrastructure development agenda. This is there for all to see," he said.
While appreciating the gesture from China, he noted that the authorities should ensure also that local contractors are capacitated as well so that they learn from their Chinese counterparts.
Harry Kalaba, Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister said the southern African nation will remain indebted to China's assistance in economic development projects over the years and looks forward to more assistance.
The Zambian minister said recently that his government has come up with priority projects for financing under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
Among the priority projects include infrastructure development, broadband communication network, construction and rehabilitation of the existing railway network as well as investments in alternative energy sources such as wind, bio-mass, thermal, geo-thermal and solar.
Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming has expressed that his government is ready to do more to help Zambia develop its infrastructure.