Lusaka, Zambia — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 01 June 2011 – China’s largest lender “’ the Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC) “’ has confirmed that it is to lend the government of Zambia US$285 million to build an electricity line linking southern and eastern Africa.

Announcing this here, Zambian power company Zesco managing director Ernest Mupwaya said construction of the power line would start in November 2011 and would be done by Chinese company TBEA.

This is the latest in a growing number of investments across Africa by China as it seeks to secure raw materials to feed its own rapid growth.

“This development will not only improve security and reliability of supply, but also enhance cross-border power trade,” Mupwaya said during a signing ceremony for the loan.

The loan is for a 365km stretch that falls within Zambia, and will be paid over 20 years, with a five-year grace period. “The interconnector line will link Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya and should boost mineral exploration, agriculture and tourism in the region, he added.

The line will also help the development of greenfield hydropower stations in Northern Zambia whose construction, analysts say, has continued to be hampered by lack of connectivity to the national grid.