The Sunday News
Fungi Kwaramba in NEW YORK, US
INVESTORS from the United States with interest in pharmaceuticals, construction, mining and agriculture are lining up for low-hanging fruits in Zimbabwe and are determined to be on the ground starting next month.
Drawn from Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, the investors told President Mnangagwa during a lively interactive session here yesterday that they have been moved by his mantra “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” and clear policies that facilitate ease of doing business. This was after President Mnangagwa had outlined opportunities in key sectors of agriculture, mining, tourism and energy sectors. The President said laws that were discouraging investment had been scrapped, while would-be investors were likely to benefit from tax breaks.
“At one time Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of the region, but after we took the land, our economy collapsed and our agriculture also collapsed. It has taken us some time but I am happy that now, with the model of agriculture we have introduced, the yields per hectare are now higher than before we took the land.”
Due to the model of agriculture that was introduced by the Second Republic, he said, Zimbabwe has now achieved food security.
“We produce cotton locally and we only have the capacity in Zimbabwe to process 30 percent of that cotton; the bulk — 70 percent — we export raw, which means there is a great opportunity for investment so that we process and value-add our products; this is the same with many products in agriculture. We think it is necessary to produce food and have agro-processing industries, and that requires investment and modern technology,” said the President.
Zimbabwe, he added, has tracts of land that potential investors could use to grow their preferred crops. President Mnangagwa also said despite the fact that Zimbabwe is endowed with vast mineral resources, the country lags behind in terms of skills that were needed to fully exploit the resources.
“You come in, you are allowed to partner or invest on your own. Whatever you want, it is open. We have created a competitive environment to attract capital and, as a result, the opportunities in the past three years have seen many companies coming in. Of course, we still have constraints in the form of sanctions,” he said.
The President said the door was open for companies that want to process minerals like diamonds and lithium, and Government was prepared to give them tax rebates. Zimbabwe is currently exploring oil and gas in Muzarabani, while areas such as Lupane have remained untapped.
Opportunities, the President said, are also available in the energy sectors, where investors could leverage on coal for thermal power and water and solar for green energy. In the tourism sector, there is inherent potential in resorts such as Victoria Falls — one of the Seven Wonders of the World — where modern and ultra-modern infrastructure could be developed for well-heeled tourists, he said.
“I always take the opportunity of discussing with our people in the Diaspora each time I am out of Zimbabwe, but I am told its not only the Zimbabwe Diaspora but also captains of industry who would want to know about Zimbabwe,” he added.
Responding to the President’s pitch, Dr Tawanda Gumbo, a biotechnologist, said they intend to build a biotechnology centre in Zimbabwe. Another Zimbabwean living in the US, Mr Tonderai Tera, said focus is to harness the Diaspora and help them invest in Zimbabwe.
Mr Daniel Dzikiri, who is in the insurance sector, said he would like to modernise the insurance industry in Zimbabwe with skills acquired in the US. Further, Dr Victor Moyo, who has lived in the US for the past 25 years, said he is interested in the pharmaceutical industry.
“We were at the back of the queue of securing medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we sat down and we said let’s organise ourselves and come up with companies that drive biotechnology. Some may succeed, some may not, but we have the intellectual capital. We would like to see a supportive infrastructure that supports the intellectual capital,” he said.
Mr Stephen Kamal, a Kenyan based in the US, said he is interested in agrochemicals and processing.
“I am thrilled that when I come to Zimbabwe I will be guaranteed land; we are coming to Zimbabwe to build infrastructure,” he said.
The interface was attended by Cabinet Ministers Professor Amon Murwira (Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development), Professor Mthuli Ncube (Minister of Finance and Economic Development), Ambassador Frederick Shava (Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade) and Dr Sekai Nzenza (Minister of Industry and Commerce).