China has boosted its planned investment to US$900 million in Zambia`s mineral-rich Copper Belt over the next four years, the government said on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Commerce and Trade said China Nonferrous Metals Corporation (CNMC) president Luo Tao told Zambian authorities that Chinese firms would now add an extra US$100 million to the initial US$800 million investments planned for the new Chambishi economic zone.
The zone, pioneered by CNMC, is designed to draw investment from scores of Chinese companies in copper and cobalt mining, agriculture and manufacturing to create 60,000 jobs.
Deputy commerce and trade minister Dora Siliya was in China to finalise investment arrangements with firms planning to set up in Zambia starting from this year, the statement said.
A senior treasury official told Reuters that Chinese firms had shown interest in setting up manufacturing plants, including processing copper into finished products such as cables.
President Levy Mwanawasa said in February after talks with Chinese leader Hu Jintao that his government would create the economic zone in the Copper Belt town of Chambishi, 420 km north of the capital Lusaka, and exempt Chinese firms from import and value added taxes.
Analysts say the move fitted in China`s strategy to tap raw materials from African nations in exchange for grants and unconditional loans to the world`s poorest continent.