The Chinese Embassy is organising seminars in Beijing for Zimbabwean Cabinet Ministers and Bureaucrats to help them learn how to engage top investors and financial institutions in the world’s second largest economy after it emerged that they had exhibited little knowledge on how to structure bankable project proposals.

The officials will receive lessons on how to design sound project proposals, an area they lacked skills in, diplomatic sources said.

This follows concerns that Zimbabwe is failing to fully utilise the US$60 billion which Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to finance projects in Africa in the form of assistance, investment and loans under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in Beijing in September last year.

Zimbabwe has been outdone by other African countries in terms of accessing the money.

A top Chinese diplomat accredited to Harare told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview that the embassy had realised that many Zimbabwean ministers do not know how their portfolios can benefit from the facility, hence the decision to take them on learning trips to the Asian nation.

Some of the project proposals have been rejected after failing to satisfy investor requirements, according to the diplomat, while some ministers do not know which specific projects qualify for funding under the BRI.

The BRI is an ambitious undertaking by China to improve infrastructure and investment in Asian, African and European countries.

“Thus this year we will work together. We have our plans well set,” the diplomat said, adding that they have already had the embassy’s plans approved by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.