Home BUSINESS Chinese debt trap in Africa: Zimbabwe owes US$1.768 billion

Chinese debt trap in Africa: Zimbabwe owes US$1.768 billion

Zimbabwe has borrowed only US$2.7 billion from China since independence in 1980 but the outstanding date as at 22 August 2022 was only US$1.8 billion, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told Parliament. He also gave a detailed breakdown of all the agreements that Zimbabwe had entered into with China.

A recent media report which was widely circulated said Zimbabwe owed China US$13 billion which is actually its total foreign debt. Some critics including former Finance Minister Tendai Biti have queried the figure saying Zimbabwe’s total debt is closer to US$30 billion. Biti also queried the outstanding debt saying Ncube had said the government had paid back only US$152 million which would leave the debt at US$2.6 billion.

New Parliament Building

The People’s Republic of China availed a grant to the tune of US$145 million for the construction of the new Parliament Building in Mt. Hampden. The project began in December 2018 and was completed in June 2022 and has a capacity of 400 seats for the National Assembly Members, 150 seats for the Senate Chamber and extra facilities for conferencing, 15 committee rooms and space for office staff and parking.

National Pharmaceutical Warehouse

In addition, the People’s Republic of China set aside approximately US$24 million for the construction of the National Pharmaceutical Warehouse in Harare which was also completed in June 2022 with the warehouse set to hold approximately 10 000 pellets of medicine.

500 Boreholes

To help ease the water crises, the People’s Republic of China funded the construction of 500 boreholes in Masvingo and Matabeleland  provinces.

COVID-19 Mitigation Assistance

To mitigate the impact of COVID 19 pandemic, the Chinese Government renovated and upgraded Zimbabwe’s main isolation centre at Wilkins Hospital and donated 2 000 000 surgical masks, 90 000 test kits, 137 ventilators and oxygenators, 152 500 protective suits, 560 000 protective gowns, 500 000 syringes, and 1 900 000 doses of vaccines.

Also a 10 member team of medical experts from China were brought in with a consignment of medical supplies including ventilators, nucleic acid testing kits, face masks and medical protective suits.

Chinese Aid – Cyclone Idai

The People’s Republic of China availed US$800 000 emergency humanitarian assistance to the people affected by Clycone Idai as well as rehabilitation of critical infrastructure damaged by Cyclone Idai. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Zimbabwe signed an agreement with the local UNDP Office to provide roofing materials to community housing and selected health and educational facilities in Chimanimani and Chipinge.

Furthermore, China led the rehabilitation and recovery programme in areas that were ravaged by Cyclone Idai by tasking six Chinese companies operating locally to undertake the repair of roads and power infrastructure, drill boreholes, build houses and communication networks.

Since 1980, Zimbabwe contracted loans from China amounting to approximately US$2.7 billion. I have a schedule of contracted loans but let me read them through. For example:

  • There is IDC Phase 1 loan which is US$14.6 million which was signed on 8 May 1997.
  • There is IDC Phase 2, US$7 million signed on 19th January, 2000.
  • There is DDF equipment project of US$8.6 billion signed on 23rd February, 2001.

All these loans are coming through the China-Exim Bank which is owned by the People’s Republic of China.

  • There is Sinosure, ZISCO Steel facility of US$54.9 million signed on 15th August, 2012.
  • There is agriculture equipment loan of US$29.2 million signed on 30th October, 2006.
  • There is also an additional agricultural project loan signed on 22nd February, 2008 amounting to US$37.6 million.
  • There is NetOne National Mobile Broadband project loan facility of US$68 million signed on 26th June, 2019.

All that we have raised was extended through the China-Exim Bank.

  • I now turn to the National Defence Phase 2 facility, through the China Development Bank signed in 1985 on 20th July. That was US$6.2 million.
  • Then National Defence Project again Phase 3, through the China Development Bank signed in 1986 on 22nd December, that is US$7.7 million.
  • There is a US$200 million farm mechanisation equipment facility signed on 13th October, 2006, through China-Exim Bank.
  • There is NetOne project as well through China-Exim Bank signed on 1st June, 2010, that is US$41.8 million.
  • There is National Defence College facility of US$98.7 million signed on 21 March, 2011, through China-Exim Bank.
  • There is the Victoria Falls International Airport facility of US$149.9 million signed on 5th April, 2012.
  • There is NetOne Phase 2 project, through China-Exim Bank signed on 25th August, 2014 and that is for US$198.8 million.
  • There is ZPC Kariba South Hydro project of US$390.5 million signed on 11th November, 2013.
  • There is TelOne Backbone network again through China-Exim bank signed on 1st December, 2015. This amounted to US$98.6 million.
  • There is Harare International Airport facility of US$152.8 million signed on 4th April, 2018, through China-Exim Bank as well.
  • Then Hwange 7 and 8 expansion facility of about a billion, US$997.7 million signed on 1st December, 2015 again through China-Exim Bank.
  • There is Sinosure Medical equipment project of about US$90 million signed on 21st March, 2011, through China-Exim Bank.
  • Finally, the Sinosure City of Harare facility of US$140.8 million signed on 21st March 2011, again through China-Exim Bank. If we add all those numbers, they amount to US$2.722.4 billion.


  • We have IDC Phase 1 amounting to US$14.6 million signed on 8th August, 1997, through China-Exim Bank.
  • There is IDC Phase 2 signed on 19th January, 2000 amounting to US$7 million, through China-Exim Bank.
  • We have DDF Equipment project of US$8.6 million signed on 23rd February, 2001 again from China-Exim Bank.
  • There is Sinosure-M of-ZISCO Steel amounting to US$54.8 million signed on 15th August, 2012, from China-Exim Bank.
  • There is Agriculture-Mechanisation Equipment and Implements Project 1 worth US$29.2 million signed on 13th October, 2006 from China-Exim Bank.
  • There is the Equipment and Implements Project 2 worth US$37. 6 million signed on 22nd February, 2008 again through China-Exim Bank.

The outstanding debt to China stood at US$1.768 billion as at 22 August, 2022.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Powered by Live Score & Live Score App