Malawi is set to become the latest African nation to benefit from the Chinese government’s strategy of investing in sports stadia, through the development of a new stadium for the national team.

The Malawian government has signed an agreement with its Chinese counterpart to develop a new US$70 million facility in the capital city of Lilongwe. Under the terms of the agreement – signed by Malawi Finance Minister Ken Lipenga and Chinese Ambassador Pan Hejun – BBC Sport reports that China will provide a concessional loan to be repaid in 20 years.

The Confederation of African Football and FIFA have both condemned Malawi’s two existing stadia as unfit for purpose. Construction of the new 40,000-capacity stadium is expected to last two years. “Malawi needs more sports infrastructure and the stadium to be constructed by the Chinese is just one of them,” said Sports Minister Enock Chihana.

Grounds funded and built by China are a major part of Beijing’s so-called stadium diplomacy. Indeed, the Chinese have been responsible for the development of stadia for Angola’s staging of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, along with this year’s tournament, which was co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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