Editorial Comment – Ticad: Another opportunity for re-engagement
International re-engagement is one of the major pillars of President Mnangagwa’s administration which is headlined by the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra, hence the forthcoming Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) provides a good platform for investment attraction.
The conference begins on August 28, in Yokohama and the President will lead a business delegation to the three-day event.
The delegation is expected to engage potential investors from various countries in Asia and Africa.
It is encouraging to note that Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Toshiyuki Iwado has expressed optimism that Zimbabwe can strike good deals at the conference.
We commend the ambassador for showing such confidence that should breathe enthusiasm into the Zimbabwean delegation that will travel to Japan.
When Ambassador Iwado paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa on Monday, he emphasised the need for the two countries to strengthen bilateral relations.
He said there is need to have more Japanese companies coming to invest in Zimbabwe and join Toyota and Astra Paints that are already operating in the country.
It is disheartening that we only have two big Japanese companies doing business here when there are various investment opportunities in the country, which makes re-engagement with the Asian country vital.
Japan used to have almost 30 company offices in Harare and we believe most of the companies that once operated here are eager to return while more can be attracted by the country’s ease of doing business reforms.
That relations between Japan and Zimbabwe have been improving over the years with the latter being a beneficiary of humanitarian aid, is a clear sign of the Asian country’s preparedness to work with us.
Equipped with Ambassador Iwado’s charming promise that his country is prepared to scale up existing bilateral investments, the Zimbabwean delegation should be hopeful for a good catch when they go hunting at TICAD.
At a time when the country is working on the most important economic reform process, platforms like TICAD should be fully embraced and utilised to attract foreign direct investment.
We believe many business delegations from Asian and African countries that will attend the summit have heard about the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” initiative and investors should be eager to learn more about what exactly has been done to improve openness in doing business.
The previous TICAD, which was held in Kenya in 2016 attracted 30 African Heads of State and Government, 70 chief executives of Japanese companies and over 7 000 participants.
It was rated as the biggest edition in the history of the summit and expectations are that the forthcoming event will be bigger, which will present a bigger pool for the local business delegation to fish from. It should also be a platform to follow-up on deals that were proposed when a high-powered Japanese business delegation visited the country in February this year.
The delegation met President Mnangagwa and various ministers with the aim of identifying investment opportunities in the country.
We are confident that the February visit laid ground for many deals that can be enhanced in Japan from August 28 to 30.
News that there are plans to commence infrastructure development under the North-South corridor gives more hope that TICAD will be a huge success story for the Zimbabwean delegation.
If this upcoming seventh edition manages to surpass the previous edition, it means there will be more than 7 000 participants.
It is now up to the Zimbabwean business delegation to structure proposals that will entice international investors at the summit.
President Mnangagwa has made it clear that his administration’s priority is economic development and he has already proved to the world that he is determined to fight corruption in the country to create a conducive environment for investment.
With growing confidence in the country that has been shown at various recent international engagements the conference should be a great platform for our business architects to prove that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business.
TICAD has been known to be a big business platform over its previous editions and the trip should see our delegation coming home with briefcases full of deals that can materialise in the near future and contribute to the President’s aim to make the country a middle income economy by 2030.