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Zimbabwe's Mugabe opens new airport road ahead of Chinese president's visit

Updated: 2015-11-25 22:55

HARARE -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday opened a revamped road leading to Harare International Airport, six days before Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit.

The 12 km road has undergone an overhaul over the last six years to change it into a dual carriageway.

Mugabe said the renovated road would project a positive image of the country to visitors.

"This is the first road for visitors to Zimbabwe, be they dignitaries, foreign investors or even tourists, see as they come into the country," he said.

Transport Minister Joram Gumbo said it was an honor that the opening of the road came at a time when President Xi Jinping would soon visit the country.

Gumbo hailed China's longstanding support to Zimbabwe's development.

"Our relations with China date back to a very long time ago. We have received great support from China over the years," he told Xinhua, adding Xi's visit was expected to open "gates and opportunities for more partnerships."

The new road has become a major infrastructure project completed since the government launched its five-year economic blueprint in 2013.

The government is said to be eager for China's assistance in developing energy and transport infrastructure to fix the country's ailing economy.

According to the Chinese embassy in Harare, China's investment in Zimbabwe hit 601 million U.S. dollars in 2013, surpassing its investment in any other African country of the year.

China has given 1.5 billion U.S. dollar loans, including preferential loans, to Zimbabwe in recent years. Its grants to Zimbabwe over the past three years topped 100 million U.S. dollars.

The Chinese are carrying out a project to expand the country's second largest power plant by 300 megawatts (MW) due to be completed in 2017.

They have also signed a deal to upgrade the country's largest power plant Hwange by 600 MW.

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