Africa Moyo in CONAKRY, Guinea
Zimbabwe’s attendance at today’s inauguration of Guinean President Alpha Conde cements the already existing relations between the two countries and opens doors to trade throughout West Africa, Vice President Kembo Mohadi has said.
VP Mohadi said it was critical for Harare and Conakry to forge bilateral relations beneficial to citizens, especially in the context of the African Continental Free Trade area (AfCFTA), which is set to revolutionise trade from next year.
Guinea is seen as an ideal opening for Zimbabwe into Francophone Africa.
In an interview, VP Mohadi expressed concern that Zimbabwe was not efficiently marketing itself as a tourist destination in all parts of the world, considering that a considerable number of Guineans were not sure they will get decent accommodation, find convenient airports and be able to drive around if they visited Victoria Falls.
“Which means we are not doing much as Zimbabwe to sell ourselves, yet tourism is one of the low-hanging fruits,” said VP Mohadi.
“We will be doing more and we will be urging the ambassador and the ministry of Foreign affairs (and international Trade) to do more outreach programmes of what we offer as Zimbabwe in terms of tourism.”
VP Mohadi was speaking after being briefed by ambassador to Senegal, Mr James Maridadi, who also covers Guinea, Mali and The Gambia, although he is yet to present his credentials in the other three countries.
VP Mohadi, who is representing President Mnangagwa here, said he will take advantage of the inauguration of President Conde to engage leaders of the 15 African countries expected to attend, so that bilateral relations can be established and in some cases deepened.
“I have received a comprehensive analysis of what is happening in West Africa,” he said.
“When it comes to this inauguration, quite a number of Heads of state would be coming to witness from the African continent.
“Now, with the AfCFTA we have introduced, we would want to interest them national leaders in certain areas that we offer in Zimbabwe.
“They might be interested in telling us what they offer because the most important thing is trade. we have decided as Africa that we need to have intra-African trade and not rely on the
VP Mohadi said he was briefed by ambassador Maridadi that some memoranda of understanding (MoUs) had been proposed in agriculture focusing on livestock and cropping and languages.
The MoUs couldn’t be pushed over the line following the outbreak of Covid-19, but will be revived. VP Mohadi wants Zimbabwean firms, led by the Confederation of Zimbabwe industries, to visit Guinea to explore opportunities that exist in sectors such as agriculture, mining and infrastructure.
“This country (Guinea) is endowed with bauxite, diamonds, gold and many other minerals,” he said.
“Some companies from Russia, China and South Africa are exploiting the minerals, but we need to be seen to be alive here since we have got this high level relationship.”
Relations between Zimbabwe and Guinea date back to the days of the liberation struggle when Conakry supported Harare.
President Mnangagwa visited Guinea last year.
VP Mohadi said he will work to ensure all of Zimbabwe’s envoys “expeditiously” get financial resources, including their salaries and payment of rent to drive the engagement and re-engagement drive being advanced by President Mnangagwa without glitches.
Ambassador Maridadi said several areas of cooperation existed between Zimbabwe and many West African countries.
“One of the areas is agriculture; you can’t have a meeting with a Senegalese or Guinean official who does not talk about agriculture,” he said.
“Zimbabwe has done well in agriculture and this part of Africa wants to learn how we have managed in terms of animal husbandry and crop husbandry. So, these are areas we are pursuing.”
Ambassador Maridadi said on being posted to Senegal, he carried some maize seed varieties and was now pursuing getting a farm to use as a demonstration plot for seed varieties produced in Zimbabwe.
He is hoping that Zimbabwean seed companies could become the major suppliers of seed in the region.
Zimbabwe and Guinea are keen to teach each other English and French to boost trade ties. Harare wants to use that as a launchpad for wider relations with the rest of the Francophone region.
Leaders or representatives of Ghana, Cote d’ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Mali, Mauritania, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Liberia, Angola, Gabon, Uganda and Comoros are also expected to attend today’s inauguration.