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FOREIGN investors should ride on the improved investment climate to take up the various investment opportunities available in Zimbabwe in the mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and media sectors, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, has said.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe-Dubai Media Day and Networking event yesterday at the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Minister Mutsvangwa said Zimbabwe had significantly refreshed its investment climate since the coming in of the Second Republic in 2017, hence the need for investors to grab opportunities.
To attract international investments into the media sector, she said the Government embarked on a deliberate initiative, some three years ago, to repeal all media regulatory and legislative pieces that hindered the sector from carrying out its information dissemination mandate effectively.
“So we have opened up the airwaves for more broadcasting players to come into the sector and break the decades-long monopoly of the State broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), and essentially we have been able to revolutionise the media sector,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“We now have more privately-owned newspapers, radio and TV stations, including community radio stations and campus radio stations than ever before.
“Yet there is still a lot more investments needed in that area. It is against this background that we now invite investment into the media industry as the liberalisation of the sector has created immense opportunities for doing business.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said she was confident that yesterday’s engagement would help increase the opportunities that the media sector in Zimbabwe offers.
Her ministry, through the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), has so far licensed 14 community radio stations and seven campus radio stations, as well as the completion of some digital terrestrial television projects, which now await commissioning.
“These require capital outlay in terms of broadcasting equipment, studio sets, and technical expertise, all of which offer significant profitable returns on investment.
“We have licensed six private television stations plus three public stations. One private station 3K TV is already broadcasting on DSTv channel 293,” sad the minister.
“In this area, there is now a huge appetite for content, which investors can capitalise on and reap huge returns. On the legislative front, the new dispensation, under the leadership of His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa, repealed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) replacing it with three stand-alone Bills to deal with the right to information, protection of privacy and the establishment and operations of the Zimbabwe Media Commission.
“It largely guarantees the right to information, freedom of expression and freedom of the media as enshrined in Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Media Commission Act was later enacted in April 2021 and at the moment the ministry is working on the Media Practitioners Bill, which is expected to encompass media governance or regulation, providing for the registration of media houses, accreditation of journalists and a framework for disciplining media practitioners who would have breached a code of conduct applicable to them, said the minister.
“It is with this in mind that as Government we believe, working with our media industry, have created a conducive environment in which the media can freely express itself without any fear or favour,” she said.
“We believe that these reforms should help open up the sector to investment in the various areas of print, broadcasting and digital.
“There are opportunities in the print media anchored on newsprint. At the moment, our media houses import all the newsprint and we see this an area investors can take advantage of,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
In the broadcasting sector, the minister said everything was premised on technology, especially as Zimbabwe migrates from analogue to digital.
She said Zimbabwe’s media sector is a lucrative industry, in which investors should consider taking up.
“I, therefore, implore all of you to come through and partner with our stakeholders. There is so much that our sector can borrow and adapt from your already established media sectors. Our President ED Mnangagwa has not stopped reminding us that Zimbabwe is open for business and this is why we are here today.
“We hope to have direct investment and/ or possible joint ventures,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (Zida) acting CEO Mrs Duduzile Shinya also articulated the investment opportunities available in Zimbabwe such as mining, agriculture, tourism the media.
She said the type of investments include public private partnerships (PPPs), Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and general investments where an investor does not need to partner the Government or any other entity, for instance when applying for TV licenses and other areas.
A number of reforms such as allowing foreigners 100 percent of their ventures, liberalisation of airwaves, introduction of a foreign currency auction system and the setting up of commercial courts to speedily resolve disputes, have been put in place.
BAZ legal and licensing manager Miss Joyce Kupukai said there were more investment opportunities in the media sector especially now that Zimbabwe has all the tiers of broadcasting, which are public, commercial and community broadcasting.
The African Charter on Broadcasting of 2001 encourages governments to have the three-tier system to ensure no community is left behind.
Miss Kupukai said Zimbabwe had gone further to license tertiary institutions that provide journalism and media studies so that learners have an appreciation of what the future holds.
Zimpapers (1980) Limited CEO Mr Pikirayi Deketeke said the Zimbabwean media environment was lucrative as evidenced by the growth of their business in the last few years.
He said from one newspaper in 1890, Zimpapers now has 12 newspaper titles including The Herald and Chronicle, radio stations and a television licence.
Mr Deketeke said Zimpapers’ television channel, ZTN, would be available on Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and satellite any time between next month and May.
Further, Zimpapers, which has issued 576 million shares, was a profitable business that declares dividends to its 600 plus investors.
A media expert based in the UAE, Ms Sona Nambiar, said from the presentations made, Zimbabwe’s media sector seemed rich and diverse.
She said media managers needed to constantly check the operating environment to check the relevance of newspapers in the face of the rise in technology.
However, Ms Nambiar called for regulation of social media to ensure it tells the truth. Various Government officials including Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the UAE, Lovemore Mazemo, Zimbabwe’s Expo 2020 Dubai Pavilion Commissioner General Ambassador, Mary Mubi, heads of parastatals and Zimpapers board chair Tommy Sithole and ZBC chief executive Ms Adelaide Chikunguru, foreign investors and Angola’s Ambassador to the UAE, Mr Albino Malungo, attended the media day and networking event.
Minister Mutsvangwa toured the Zimbabwe Pavilion and said she was impressed by the number of visitors flocking in to assess the country’s products and business opportunities.