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Zimbabwe flirts with private investors

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Zimbabwean president Emerson Mnangagwa (right) and African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina. Image credit: African Development Bank.

Zimbabwe flirts with private investors  

Zimbabwean president Emerson Mnangagwa has called on investors to realise the massive investment opportunities in Zimbabwe and shun negative perceptions of risk.

Mnangagwa spoke on Thursday at a special event on the margins of the Africa Investment Forum Market Days 2022 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

The event focused on the broad range of investment opportunities in Zimbabwe. Several cabinet ministers accompanied the president, including Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Shava, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube, Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka and Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza.

“Our aim is to persuade global capital assembled in this city to realise that there are opportunities for investment in Zimbabwe,” says Mnangagwa.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and its seven partners set up the Africa Investment Forum to attract investment and capital to Africa. The forum’s Market Days 2022 featured boardroom sessions to promote flagship sectors where Africa has a comparative advantage. Examples are women-led businesses, music, film, fashion, textiles, and sports.

Mnangagwa says that the AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina invited him to the forum when Adesina visited Zimbabwe earlier this year.  Adesina agreed to champion Zimbabwe’s debt clearance strategy. Zimbabwe has been hurt by sanctions imposed by the European Union and other Western countries.

Zimbabwe is safe despite perceptions (Zimbabwe flirts with private investors)  

“Our mission here is to explain ourselves, assure investors that Zimbabwe is a safe investment destination,” says Mnangagwa.

Adesina says Zimbabwe could count on the AfDB’s strong support. He confirmed the bank’s approval of a USD4-million grant to support the development of a secretariat to move the country’s debt arrears clearance issue forward.

“I know the story of Zimbabwe, the opportunities and potential of Zimbabwe,” saiys Adesina. “Zimbabwe is not as risky as you think. In fact private sector opportunities are limitless,” he says.

Adesina outlined the country’s many potential areas for investment, including steel, agriculture, and information technology. He said the bank was lending support in these and other sectors.

The AfDB made a grant to Zimbabwe during the Covid-19 pandemic, stepping in where other institutions had not.

Mnangagwa’s ministers were bullish about Zimbabwe’s investment prospects.

Ncube said the Zimbabwe Investment and Development agency (ZIDA) was the country’s one-stop shop for potential investors. “With ZIDA, your investment is safe…we have the capacity…we are welcoming all private investors,” says Ncube.

Mining, agriculture and tourism top priority ( Zimbabwe flirts with private investors)  

Nzenza says the country is focusing on mining, agriculture (especially cotton), tourism and manufacturing. It also plans to manufacturing lithium batteries locally.

“There’s no doubt that sanctions hurt, but Zimbabwe is open for business. The key words are value addition…we have been exporting raw materials for a long time, it is time to manufacture locally,” says Nzenza.

Masuka says in his opinion, the biggest opportunity was the land reform program that Zimbabwe had embarked on. The government has put agriculture at the top of its agenda. “We want to develop agriculture…there are massive opportunities. Agriculture will power our way to achieving vision 2030,” says Masuka.

Private sector panelists at Thursday’s event were invited to offer advice to potential investors in Zimbabwe. They included Marjorie Mayida, managing director of Zimbabwe’s leading insurance company, Old Mutual; George Manyere, managing director of Brainworks a Zimbabwean company listed on the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges; Kalpesh Patel, managing director of SteelMakers Group of companies; and Peggy Mapondera, an investment principal at Masawara PLC, a pan-African diversified investment holding group.

George Manyere of Brainworks says Zimbabwe’s economic performance against neighboring countries like Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique—which do not have sanctions and enjoy support from the international lending community—was proof of the nation’s capacity to perform despite perceptions of risk, and the country’s biggest selling point.

Tshepidi Moremong, Chief Operating Officer of Africa50 noted the progress and opportunities in transport, logistics, infrastructure.  She said that following a mission to Harare last month, Africa50 would be signing a memorandum of understanding, specifically on asset recycling.

Kapesh Pattel of SteelMakers Group advised that getting out in front of investors would help to demystify negative and misleading perceptions of Zimbabwe.

For the first time since the Africa Investment Forum began in 2018, three promising business transactions from Zimbabwe made it through to boardroom discussions during the Africa Investment Forum Market Days.

Zimbabwe flirts with private investors  

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Zimbabwe flirts with private investors  

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