FDI: Things certainly looking up for Zim

Victoria Ruzvidzo Business Focus
The latest figure speaks to the potential that this country has in attracting investment, especially viewed from that the fact that what has come Zimbabwe’s way is still very small compared to the $5,7 billion that went to South Africa, $4,9 billion for Mozambique and $2,4 billion for Zambia. We have always felt that this country is way better than Mozambique and Zambia in terms of investment opportunities and the abundant resources waiting to be exploited.

Of course, there are a number of political, social and economic reasons why we are not getting such levels of investment.

Many, though, have to do with mere perception rather than fact. But either way, the truth is that this country needs to attract more FDI to help induce economic recovery.

We are all too aware of the prerequisites to investment and as a country we need to work at these.

Some of them are policy inconsistency, discord, challenging operational environment, cost of doing business and other such that seem to stand in the way of increased investment. We are all too aware of the constraints.

But as we work on these, it is also important to note that efforts to improve the investment climate have also begun to pay off, given reports that at least 30 business delegations have come to Zimbabwe in pursuit of the opportunities.

This is a good start, one which we should ride on as we seek to attract more investment.

In my last week’s interview with French Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, we mentioned that French companies were showing a keen interest to do business with Zimbabwe.

A number were in the process of setting up shop here, a development that will result in more investments.

More trade and investment visits are lined up for the next six months, so it is incumbent upon Government, the private sector and other stakeholders to ensure the environment and business conditions are right.

Zimbabwe needs to capitalise on the growing interest not just through lip service but putting in place real and tangible initiatives that will improve the environment of doing business in this country.

Almost all sectors of this economy are yearning for investment. Opportunities abound, both big and small, which could see billions of dollars flowing into the economy.

Zimbabwe Investment Authority chief executive Mr Richard Mbaiwa last week revealed that the majority of investments were in mining infrastructure and service sectors.

These are but a small segment of economy wide opportunities. There are also opportunities in tourism, power and energy, agriculture and other sectors that can bring quick wins or low hanging fruits.

Indeed, Zimbabwe has to claim a significant stake of the $54 billion that has been injected into Africa.

The Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation has identified four specific clusters that clearly enunciate priority areas requiring investment.

These clusters are Food Security and Nutrition, Social Services and Poverty Eradication, Infrastructure and Utilities and Value Addition and Beneficiation.

These offer critical guidance in terms of areas though which investment can be channelled.

Statistics show that the cost of Zim-Asset priorities this year alone is $12 billion, of which Government will finance $2,5 billion, representing 20 percent while donors and the private sector are expected to chip in with $9,5 billion, which is 80 percent of the total requirement.

The above statistics show how critical investment is in driving the economic blueprint.

This, therefore, means that a lot has to be done to promote investment through such vehicles as public-private partnerships and joint ventures. At a Zim-Asset communication strategy workshop convened by the Office of the President and Cabinet yesterday, Zimbisa economic advisor and Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University visiting lecturer Dr Gift Mugano emphasised the need to put in place policies that would attract investment as part of effort to implement Zim-Asset.

He stressed that sector- specific investments would be critical as he ran through such deliverables as improvement in service provision by local authorities, construction of 125 000 housing units and resuscitation of dormant mines.

Focus could also be directed towards Special Economic Zones, long established as key drivers of economic growth.

If efforts towards creating a conducive environment are sustained over the next few months, Zimbabwe will be telling a different story in terms of investment figures come year-end.

My interactions over the past week with Ambassador Delahousse and officials from the United States Public Affairs Section among others have shown that the international community has embraced Zim-Asset as a good document capable of delivering Zimbabwe to the proverbial land of milk and honey. Branding, aggressively marketing and adherence to set guidelines and deadlines will turn Zimbabwe into a must destination for FDI. In God we trust I trust.

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