From The Herald by Fungai Mugadya
Zimbabwe is at a critical juncture following the events of November that saw the resignation of Cde Robert Mugabe and his replacement with President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 24, ushering in a historic transition which has had positive momentum and vibe.
There is no shortage of goodwill for the country and Zimbabweans at home and abroad – the Diaspora – are making renewed efforts to take up opportunities offered by the new order while on the other hand helping to showcase Zimbabwe as a safe and profitable investment destination to the global capital markets through such efforts as mobilising Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Zimbabwe, and thereby contributing to jump-starting of the recovery of the economy of Zimbabwe.
Increased inflow of foreign direct investment into Zimbabwe will result in increased industry capacity utilisation, increased output in all the various sub-sectors of the economy and increased employment for our very educated and skilled workforce.
Foreign investors are largely unaware of various opportunities in our economic sectors such mining, agriculture, energy and manufacturing industries. Zimbabwe is emerging from almost two decades of global isolation and as a result, a lot of investment opportunities have gone untapped and unnoticed.
At worst, the opportunities in Zimbabwe have been thwarted through the imposition of an economic embargo that made it difficult for foreign companies of Western origin to invest in the country for its punitive and externally induced strictures and associated risks.
Besides, the nearly two decades-long economic challenges have resulted in national assets such as real estate, factories, businesses, machinery and equipment being grossly undervalued to the extent that any investors who will come into Zimbabwe now will benefit by picking very cheap and discounted assets. For investors seeking to come to invest in Zimbabwe, the time is now. Assets are at their cheapest rates and investors who come to Zimbabwe stand to harvest excellent returns.
In terms of exit mechanisms, and repatriation of returns, the Zimbabwean Government is in the process of ensuring that laws are harmonised to create a holistic and investor-friendly environment. The Government will also work out an incentive scheme system that will help mobilise and retain FDI in the country.
In addition, the existence of established capital markets and in particular the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange will give and guarantee investors in the country with exit mechanisms whenever they decide to disinvest.
There are clear ways to boost this initiatives through, among other things:
- Helping manage Zimbabwe’s risk profile and advocate for the repealling and amendment of indigenisation laws and enact investment protection laws
- Helping to mobilise foreign investment into Zimbabwe through a global investment drive participating in various international platforms like the global mining summit targeting investors looking for opportunities
- Engaging past, present and future investors and addressing issues of concern in order to bring them to the table and retain all foreign investment in Zimbabwe
- Assisting Zimbabwe catch up with the international community in terms of economic development trends
- Unlocking value from Zimbabwe’s natural resources
- Developing and creating an incentive framework that will help attract foreign direct investment
- Providing networking platforms for local and international entrepreneurs who may be looking to forge partnerships
It is critical to have an investment platform linking investors to business opportunities in Zimbabwe. To achieve these objectives, there is need to focus on those industries that have the potential to be the foundation of sustainable economic growth in this century. Such a platform acts as an implicit expression of a new vision for Zimbabwe promulgated by a new generation and Government along with friends of Africa.
There is also need for a partnership with boards of trade, chambers of commerce and other institutions in host countries and world capitals to access businesses that are interested in expanding their scope in areas such as mining, solar, financial services, real estate and new challenging opportunities of oil exploration and fishery.
There are a number of Zimbabwean companies that are interested in finding partners to expand their scale in terms of technology transfer, financing, regionalisation etc, and such partnerships need to be fostered in a win-win situation.
The equation cannot be complete without engaging ministers of commerce/trade or related Cabinet functions from Zimbabwe and various world capitals so they can hear and understand the various perspectives and what they need to do to facilitate business development, job creation in the country so that they are ready to receive and embrace a new investor.
It will be critical that Zimbabwe embraces global best practice, ethics and corporate governance, which is as ever critical in global commerce today and around the world.
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Investment Council, which is seeking to promote Diaspora investment and FDI in Zimbabwe. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org