Zambia To Spend $5.6 Billion On Building Roads

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Zambia’s President Michael Sata has announced a $5.6 billion plan to build and upgrade more than eight thousand kilometres worth of roads over the next five years to improve social and economic infrastructure in Africa's top copper producer, reported Reuters on Wednesday.

"The launch of this project signals the beginning of the revolution to modernise Zambia," said the president’s spokesman, George Chellah, in a statement quoted by Reuters.

Nearly 2,300km of roads would be built under the first phase of the project at a cost of 7.9 trillion kwacha ($1.6 billion), while phase two and three would cover 3,049km and 2,862km of roads at a cost of roughly $2.27 billion and $1.82 billion respectively.

Chellah told the Lusaka Times that the project underlined the Government’s desire and determination to develop the state of infrastructure in the country; and said that the ultimate goal was to change the nation into a completely land-linked country.

According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook, Zambia presently has about 20,000km of paved roads and 71,000km of unpaved roads.

Last week, Zambia enjoyed a stunning debut on the international bond market when it managed to sell $750 million of its maiden dollar bond at a cost of just 5.63 percent – even lower than the equivalent borrowing cost of Spain.

According to the Financial Times, investors also placed around $12 billion of orders for Zambia’s bonds, with the country experiencing robust growth thanks to its copper exports.

Over the last decade, the Zambian economy has grown by an average of 5.8 percent annually, though some analysts have also warned of risks to the copper market, which accounts for about 80 percent of the nation’s total export.

Furthermore, Philippe de Pontet, Africa director at the Eurasia Group, said that Zambia still suffered from fiscal vulnerabilities and political risks, which may have been overlooked at the recent bond sale.

“President Michael Sata’s unpredictable and confrontational style of governance will likely raise risk perceptions – and alienate some investors and donors – even if macro-economic management remains largely sound,” said de Pontet, as cited by FT.

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Nevertheless, the proceeds of the bond sale is likely to be used to upgrade infrastructure, particularly in the transport and energy sectors, says Reuters, while the Zambian government has also recently asked its American counterparts Zambia has asked the American government for more help in creating an attractive investment environment.

According to the Lusaka Times, Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts Sylvia Masebo recently spoke to the US ambassador on how to attract visitors during next year’s United Nations World Tourism organisation (UNWTO) conference – to be co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe.