Felex Share Senior Reporter
The Dangote Group says it will start operations in Zimbabwe this year, with its chief strategist, Dr Abdu Mukhtar, yesterday asserting that they now feel “comfortable and excited” about investing in the country.
Dr Mukhtar said the group had been satisfied with the preliminary work and was ready to roll out its projects.
As such, he said, the group’s geologists, who arrived in the country on Wednesday, would remain in the country for site visits and collection of samples for analysis ahead of the setting of a cement manufacturing plant.
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Dr Mukhtar made the remarks after meeting Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Offices yesterday.
“As you know, we are part of the Dangote Group that was here a few months ago and we are here to continue to work on the projects that we said we are going to do in Zimbabwe,” he said.
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“Everything is on track, we are back and happy. We will continue to come back here this year and 2016 is going to be a very active year. We will be coming in and out to do all sort of things as we kick start the projects.”
Dangote Industries Limited, which has also expressed interest in coal mining and power generation, is owned by Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote.
The Forbes Magazine estimates the businessman’s net worth at more than $18 billion.
Dr Mukhtar, who was expected to hold a series of meetings with officials from the Office of the President and Cabinet and other senior Government officials, said a lot of background work had been taking place since Mr Dangote’s visit in August last year.
This is contrary to negative reports by some sections of the private media that the Dangote group’s investment was a “pie in the sky.”
Said Dr Mukhtar: “We have been doing a lot of work at the background, analysing detail, looking at all sorts of things and doing all sorts of analysis.
“Now we feel we are very comfortable, so we are here actually with experts who will go out into the field.
“They will be here for about three weeks. We have a very good programme where they will go around the sites identified for these projects.
“This visit will see samples being collected that we will go and analyse further and based on that we will start looking and zeroing in on the sites where these projects will take place.
“As you know, we are talking about doing a cement plant here, we are thinking about a power generation plant as well as coal mining.”
Government has proposed a number of sites where the company can set up the cement manufacturing plant.
Dr Mukhtar said their commitment to invest in Zimbabwe remained high and all the planned projects were on track.
He said the team had not encountered any hurdle as officials from Government offices they knocked on had been supportive.
“Our commitment to invest in Zimbabwe remain very high, we remain positive, very interested and excited about what we plan to do here,” said Dr Mukhtar.
“We said a lot to the Acting President and assured him that we continue to be committed and interested in these projects.
“So far we have been getting a lot of cooperation and support from the officials from the Government of Zimbabwe and we have not had any problems.”
The Dangote Group has already registered a company with the Zimbabwe Investment Authority and has been licensed.
Dangote Group has a vast business empire that spans manufacturing, logistics and power generation in several African countries, including Zambia where it has established a $400 million cement manufacturing plant.
Mr Dangote’s investment deals will be a major boost to the economy and they are expected to complement the mega deals Zimbabwe has sealed with China and other countries.
The Chinese deals have seen the Asian country’s leader President Xi Jinping last month reciprocating President Mugabe’s August 2014 visit to Beijing, by also coming to Harare.
The deals are being implemented under the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, which will be buttressed by the 10-Point Plan President Mugabe enunciated during his State of the Nation Address last year.
The 10-Point Plan cuts across all the key economic enablers and puts to the fore, value addition and beneficiation of the country’s mineral resources.
Government ministries have already started the implementation of the plan by mooting several mega projects that are set to significantly contribute to the fiscus and employment creation.