Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, the first visit by a Chinese leader since 1996, amid expectations this would lead to the signing of infrastructure funding and investment agreements.
Xi is on a two-day state visit to Zimbabwe and will travel to South Africa on Wednesday, where he will meet President Jacob Zuma and later co-chair the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation summit in Johannesburg.
The state-owned Herald newspaper dubbed Xi’s visit historic, adding that it would see the signing of several deals.
“It’s all systems go and the agreements to be signed will be in the areas of communication, civil aviation, transport, infrastructure, to mention just a few,” Joey Bimha, the secretary of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying.
Bimha said the value of the agreements would only be disclosed later on Tuesday.
China is Africa’s largest trading partner and the trade volume between them amounted to $220 billion in 2014, according to China state news agency Xinhua. Its investments in Africa amounted to $32.4 billion at the end of 2014, according to London-based BMI Research.
Some African countries may seek to renegotiate repayment of existing debts to China as a way of helping their economies hit by lower crude and commodity prices. Other countries will also seek more Chinese investment in factories manufacturing goods for export, in addition to roads and railways on a continent long seen as a major commodities and energy source for China.