Golden Sibanda : Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Investment Authority has allayed fears about the possibility of Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote aborting planned multi-million dollar investments in Zimbabwe. This comes as the Department of Immigration refuted claims by a local weekly publication that Dangote’s aides had been denied entry visas into Zimbabwe to assess progress of planned investments, which could see the deals going off the rails.ZIA chief executive Richard Mbaiwa said Dangote Holdings, owned by Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, was granted a licence for an integrated project entailing a cement plant, coal mine and power station in September 2015 and since then, its officials have visited Zimbabwe many times without any hitches for the sole reason of implementing the projects. Aliko Dangote is a Nigerian national, founder and owner of Dangote Group, which has investments spread across a number of African countries and is Africa’s richest man with an estimated net worth of $17 billion. He recently extended his tentacles to oil.
Mr Mbaiwa said Government, and all its regulatory arms have done everything to bring the Nigerian’s billions to Zimbabwe and communication in this regard has been regular amid hope the deals will materialise.
“We are in constant communication with the team; particularly the corporate strategy division and they have not reported any problems in acquiring visas, or any other permits. In their last communication they advised that they are in the due diligence stage, and are examining the mineral deposits in the laboratory in Nigeria,” the ZIA chief executive said yesterday.
In fact, Mr Mbaiwa said the Dangote Group recently paid glowing tribute to ZIA and the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, for setting an investor friendly inter-ministerial forum that has served as a “one- top-shop” for projects.
“Through the inter-ministerial forum, we were able to openly interact with the technical representatives of all the relevant State ministries and departments, to understand the various requirements, and have all our questions addressed,” reads a testimonial from Dangote, which ZIA said it will publish on its website.
The investment authority said there has been maximum co-operation from all the Government departments, including Department of Immigration, a full member of the One-Stop-Shop at ZIA and whose principal director is a member of the board of directors.
The Department of Immigration said while Nigeria is in Group C, which has a visa regime requiring nationals from these countries to submit visa applications online prior to travel, there has not been any application by Dangote or any of his team for visas or permits and no application in their respect is pending.
According to the Immigration Department, since no application for visas or permits submitted or was received from Dangote, “it is logically and legally impossible to refuse a visa that was never applied for”.
The Department of Immigration’s principal immigration officer Ms Patricia Mafodya pointed out that Dangote Group has Josey Mahachi, as their local agent, and a local law firm which liaises with the department for their visa and permit applications and are yet to report any difficulty in processing either their visas or permits, labelling the reports of alleged challenges faced by the Dangote Group as misleading.
“During the past year Dangote technical teams have been coming to Zimbabwe attending to their investment initiatives without any visa challenges,” she said.