Golden Sibanda recently in Dubai, UAE
THE Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency says it has drawn huge lessons from the Dubai Airport Free Zone Area (DAFZA), which the country’s premier investment promotion body will replicate here to promote domestic and foreign investment into the country.
ZIDA was among a high powered delegation of Government officials, led by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga that toured DAFZA and had presentations from the trade and investment promotion agency to share insight and lessons on how special economic zones work.
The delegation was received by Ms Amnah Looter, assistant director general of DAFZA, who chronicled the various opportunities and benefits that the free zone offers, including the Dubai CommerCity, which offers free zone listing to firms trading largely in services.
Other senior Government officials who were part of the delegation included Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka.
Secretary for Industry and Commerce Dr Mavis Sibanda, ZIDA chief executive Doug Munatsi and permanent secretary in Vice President Chiwenga’s office Major General Godfrey Chanakira (Retired) were also part of the team that toured the Dubai special economic zone.
The high-powered delegation was in the UAE to appreciate Zimbabwe’s readiness to showcase trade and investment opportunities in the country to investors at the Expo 2020 Dubai, which started on October 1, 2021 and runs until March 31, 2022.
A total of 192 countries are taking part in Africa, Asia and the Middle East’s first global expo.
Zimbabwe’s pavilion has drawn huge interest from visitors who have been flocking the site since the exhibition started. VP Chiwenga described the country’s displays at the expo as “perfect”, adding that they fully reflected the country’s history and wide range of opportunities.
Dubai’s DAFZA accounts for more than 10 percent of the emirate’s foreign trade, which amounted to AED 119 billion (US$32,4 billion) in 2020.
Benefits of the DAFZA entail a number of customs and tax concessions and incentives to companies registered with the free zone, making it easier for them to operate, trade and grow compared to those in the mainland.
Foreign company ownership is allowed at 100 percent equity, although partnerships are encouraged, full repatriation of profits is easy, personal income is exempt from tax while no charge or duty is charged on imports.
It accommodates industries from across various sectors of information communication technology, consumer products, investment business development, engineering and building materials, freight and logistics, aerospace, food and beverage as well as medical equipment and pharmaceuticals among others.
The DAFZA is a unique one stop shop offering all administrative services covering government services, customs, immigration, business facilitation, IT such as postal facilitation, telecoms and banking services, food courts and retail and ICT services.
Types of licences include trading, e-commerce, general trading services, industrial activities and dual licences to trade within and outside DAFZA, among a dozen other forms of benefits and advantages of the free zone.
ZIDA chief investment and corporate affairs officers Mr Tino Kambasha said visiting DAFZA was an eye opener and the country’s premier investment body was looking to replicate some of the observations back home, as the country seeks to attract more investment and grow trade.
“From our level, we got to see what it looks like on a grander scheme, especially on dealing with special economic zones.
“Coming from where we are, we have the advantage of leapfrogging into the future, so we want to learn from the best, we want to implement the best strategies and structures.
“The good thing that we saw from the special economic zone by the airport here in Dubai is that it was designed to be a special economic zone that is not industry or sector based or company based, I think that was the biggest takeaway from that.
“Going forward, we probably see ourselves restructuring our special economic zones so that they make sense logistically, they make sense financially, they make sense in terms of utilities, water, electricity and internet.
“So, we want people (investors) to come into those zones knowing that all the facilities are provided,” he said.
Commenting on what Zimbabwe was seeking to achieve Mr Kambasha said a lot of people did not know the Zimbabwe story, hence the country’s participation in the exhibition, where ZIDA, which will have officers for the six months period of the expo, will help put the country in the global limelight.
“Our laws have changed and many people are not yet familiar with how we are now protecting investors and all the different security features that we have put into the ZIDA Act and aligned ourselves to the constitution and other laws.
He said Zimbabwe needed to seize the opportunity of Expo 2020 Dubai to tell the world that it had changed in many aspects, including making it conducive for investors to do business.
He said Zimbabwe would engage investors on a win/win basis and find export markets for its produce.
“The interest in Zimbabwe was overwhelming, especially after the speech by the Vice President at the Global Business Forum Africa. People have always had keen interest in Zimbabwe, almost like an inherent liking of Zimbabwe, but just that the environment was not conducive,’’ he said.
VP Chiwenga, together with his team, held several meetings to promote trade and investment in Zimbabwe.
Apart from DAFZA, his delegation also met Zimbabweans in the Gulf Region, Dubai fresh produce giant Ali Gholami, leading global logistics firm DP World and pharmaceutical group Intrapharm as well as Dubai Chamber of Commerce.