Mabasa Sasa in Astana, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan’S leading businesspeople and industrialists have responded positively to President Mnangagwa’s call for them to partner Zimbabwe, saying they are willing to invest in the country.
Yesterday, the Chamber of International Commerce of Kazakhstan invited President Mnangagwa to a working lunch in Astana, and in response to his overview of the opportunities abounding in Zimbabwe, they expressed readiness to do business in the country.
Mr Alexander Mashkevich, who chairs the management board of the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), said his company had already invested US$100 million in Zimbabwean platinum and coal projects and they were now negotiating projects that covered chrome extraction and construction of a ferro-alloy facility in the country.
ERG employs over 70 000 people and is the world’s largest ferrochrome producer.
Mr Mashkevich said: “Zimbabwe has a lot of opportunities for business and that is why I have been there several times and know what I am talking about.”
The board chair of Alageum Group, Mr Yerkebulan Ilyasov, added: “We are ready to co-operate with your energy companies and the Ministry of Energy, so that you can benefit from our ever advancing technologies.”
The Alegeum Group is Kazakhstan’s largest electro-technical firm, operating more than 30 subsidiaries and plants in the sector.
The deputy chair of pharmaceutical giant Chimfarm, Mr Aziz Turdiyev, said they were keen to establish a win-win partnership with Zimbabwe; while the deputy chair of KazAgro said the two sides should explore ways of developing irrigation and the wider agriculture sector.
Mr Yerdan Bekhozhin, the deputy chair of the Export Insurance Company, said they were willing to facilitate investment into Zimbabwe.
Mr Bekhzozhin’s counterpart at Kazakh Invest, Mr Marat Birimzhan, lauded President Mnangagwa’s clarity of vision on attracting investment, saying such lucidity was behind Kazakhstan’s rise as the leading destination of foreign direct investment in the region.
Mr Malik Olzhabekov, who is the deputy chair of the Aerospace Committee of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defence and Aerospace Industry, offered to run a one-month pilot programme for any sector of Government’s choice for it to appreciate the services offered by satellite technologies.
Kazakhstan is a world leader in aerospace, and runs the only existing programme to launch people into space, in addition to regularly propelling satellites into orbit.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said there was need to put in place an investments protection agreement.
Prof Ncube is the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, who along with Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando is part of President Mnangagwa’s delegation here, said Zimbabwe was looking for partners “to take us to the next level”.
He said there were many opportunities in fertiliser manufacturing and supply, oil refining and fuel supply, reinsurance, wheat supply and production and pharmaceuticals.
He encouraged businesspersons to establish a Kazakhstan-Zimbabwe Business Council to expedite commerce and investment between the two countries, and extended an invitation for participation at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
Minister Chitando pointed out that from a geo-survey perspective, Zimbabwe was under-explored, and this in itself spoke to numerous direct and indirect opportunities for investors.
He said the commodity-specific mineral development policies by Government created investment opportunities in mining itself, as well as in rail construction, power generation and machine building among many others.