Zim, Saudi Arabia enter new economic era President Mnangagwa follows proceedings during the first Saudi Arabia-Africa Summit in Riyadh yesterday

Fungi Kwaramba in RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

ZIMBABWE is seeking to unlock vast opportunities with Saudi Arabia, and work with the kingdom for the realisation of global peace and security, President Mnangagwa said.

Zimbabwe is already reaping huge rewards from President Mnangagwa’s engagement and re-engagement initiatives, a foreign policy drive predicated on the maxim, “Friend to all and enemy to none”, which is accompanied by his clarion call to the world that “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”.

The foreign policy thrust has seen Zimbabwe scale new diplomatic frontiers, with plans afoot to reciprocally open consulates between Zimbabwe and Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday President Mnangagwa attended the inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit that seeks to boost relations between Saudi Arabia and African countries. To steer the forum, 16 joint committees, two coordinating councils and seven business councils were established, and more than 250 cooperation agreements in political, economic and development fields were signed.

The President said Zimbabwe’s focus is on economic partnership and cooperation.

He is accompanied by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Ambassador Frederick Shava, Finance and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Sithembiso Nyoni and other senior Government officials.

In his brief address to the summit, the President said after the Covid-19 era, there was need to chart a new world order based on multilateralism and fair international trade practices.

President Mnangagwa and other African leaders pose for a photo at the Saudi Arabia-Africa Summit in Riyadh yesterday

The hosting of the summit, being the first between Saudi Arabia and African countries, was most opportune given the immense opportunities in the economic era after the Covid-19 pandemic .

The President also said the world is presently facing challenges such as unilateralism, climate change, conflict, unfair trade terms and economic imbalances. Africa and the Arabian Peninsula are natural partners through historical, cultural and economic exchanges.

“This forum therefore offers a forum and institutional framework to foster Saudi-Africa cooperation as we modernise and industrialise our respective countries.

“Further, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is equally a valuable partner for the realisation of global peace and security in our region. Zimbabwe is pleased to be part of this historic summit.

“Similarly, Zimbabwe is greatly concerned with the tragic events unfolding in Gaza in violation of humanitarian international laws. We reiterate our call for the revival of political processes towards lasting peace in that region.”

Yesterday’s forum was attended by several African Heads of State and Government and King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia imports mostly metal products, copper and articles, live animals, fruits, coffee, tea, spices, and of late it has expressed interest in lithium, of which Zimbabwe has it in abundance.

Last month, a high-powered delegation from Saudi Arabia led by Special Envoy Mr Adel Ahmed al Jubeir met President Mnangagwa and showed interest in investing in Zimbabwe, especially in the agriculture and mining sectors.

“This is the first time that we are attending. We have the Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture, those are two critical issues; how we can access financial support in this region, from Saudi Arabia, from UAE.

“When the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia visited us in Harare, he discussed the question of food, access by Saudi Arabia to Zimbabwe and that they want to grow grain in Zimbabwe if we sign an MoU on that basis. So, I brought the Minister of Agriculture (Dr Masuka),” said the President.

Through the Saudi-Africa Summit, Zimbabwe signed a couple of memorandums of understanding with investors interested in doing business.

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