The Sunday News
THE Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Cde Raj Modi, has returned from a month-long working visit to India’s state of Gujarat where he was engaged in a charm offensive which will see Indian investors flocking in droves to Zimbabwe starting next month.
Gujarat is a state on the western coast of India with a coastline of 1 600km, most of which lies on the Kathiawar peninsula. It has a population in excess of 60 million. It is the fifth largest Indian state by area and the ninth largest state by population. The economy of Gujarat is the fifth-largest state economy in India with US$180 billion in GDP and a per capita GDP of US$2 400.
Cde Modi, who returned to Zimbabwe on Friday, was upbeat that businesspeople from Gujarat, a state where he was born and bred before he moved to Zimbabwe, would follow up on the business opportunities he highlighted to them.
The investors that Cde Modi met want to invest in mining, industry, health, energy, real estate, retail, textile, pharmaceuticals, agro processing and education. Meghmani Group of companies, a company that specialises in agro-chemicals expressed interest in setting up a plant in Zimbabwe that will supply local and regional markets. The company supplies its products to the global market.
Drashta Power, a major supplier of solar power in Gujarat, is interested in supplying and assembling solar products in Zimbabwe. The company has a capacity to generate electricity and supply the national grid to support the industrialisation process.
“I requested the company to put together a proposal that should be directed to the Ministry of Energy (and Power Development) and I would facilitate the meeting. The company has a capacity to generate electricity and to supply the national grid, this would support our industrialisation process.
“In a related matter I was invited to a conference on energy policy for industrialisation by the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry. As things stand the state of Gujarat has adequate power and generates 15 000MW. The State is aiming to produce 20 000MW by 2025 in order to sustain 70 percent of its contribution to India’s GDP. During the conference the state of Gujarat said it was ready to share its experience with Zimbabwe.”
The directors of two companies, Evren Commercials Private Limited, a financial company and RNC International, a concern with interest in the manufacturing of steel, have indicated that they will organise a business delegation, made up of investors from various sectors, which will fly to Zimbabwe in February.
The two companies’ areas of interest are pharmaceuticals, agro processing, mining and energy.
However, Cde Modi indicated to the companies that Zimbabwe’s economy is diversified and that they should not limit themselves to manufacturing, but extend their interests to tourism infrastructure, agriculture, mining and services.
During his stay in Gujarat, the deputy minister was also invited to clarify investment opportunities available in Zimbabwe by members of the Sourashtra Chamber of Commerce in Madurai.
Cde Modi said: “They could not hide their joy in meeting me and they promised to urgently put up business proposals. Their areas of interest include textiles and clothing, mining, solar and wind power, the manufacturing of substitutes for plastic careers, diamonds cutting and polishing. Many of the delegates were not aware that Zimbabwe gives visas to people from India on arrival.
“I also assured them that Zimbabwe is a peaceful and stable country. In return the Chamber of Commerce made a commitment to come and engage the business community. They also promised to promote investment opportunities in Zimbabwe to their members, as they all have a keen appetite to invest abroad.”
Meanwhile, Cde Modi met the Chief Minister of Gujarat State, Mr Vijay Rupani and indicated it was about time the cordial relations between Zimbabwe and India led to enhanced trade and investment relations.
Cde Modi said: “I reminded Chief Minister Rupani that Zimbabwe was the first African country to open a business development and investment office in Gujarat to promote trade and investment between the state of Gujarat and Zimbabwe. Gujarat is one of the most industrialised states in India and as Zimbabwe we should take advantage of that to support our industrialisation drive. I also invited the Chief Minister to Zimbabwe and when he comes, he will bring a business delegation.”
In response, Chief Minister Rupani said there was need to co-operate in solar energy, skills development and education. He also indicated that a team from the Ministry of Education would visit Zimbabwe from 12 to 16 February to enhance co-operation in the field of education.
Chief Rupani also indicated that the state of Gujarat was prepared to help Zimbabwe solve its power generation woes by investing heavily in the energy sector.