Published On: Fri, May 27th, 2016

Zimbabwe – Southern Africa’s future investment destination

zim mapJOHANNESBURG : As African countries continue to face tough and slow economic growth, Zimbabwe is set to proactively position itself as Southern Africa’s investment destination, as they will be hosting the first ever Zimbabwe 2016 Conference on  the 5th of July 2016 in London, United Kingdom.

The conference is expected to be attended by country’s key ministers, officials, public sector, diplomatic community and policymakers who will be explaining the plans and priorities for rebuilding of the country’s economy.

The conference is organised by Africa Confidential, one of Africa’s largest thought leadership publications and also supported by the Government of Zimbabwe in partnership with various ministries within Zimbabwe.

As the country reopens itself to the international markets after a long absence, the focus will be on which sector can produce a rapid response as conditions improve.

As per Africa Confidential, experts from banking and other key economic sectors – including agriculture, mining and manufacturing – will point out a realistic approach of operating and what has to be done to boost growth and create jobs.

The gathering is not a ‘polish-over’ kind of a conference; it will be tackling the critical questions of political instability, security and investment risk as we all saw major foreign-owned companies panic after the reports that government’s deadline for Indigenisation law comes to an end in March 31st this year.

Apart from Zimbabwean leaders, the gathering will feature key international partners from Europe, America and Asia to further the constructive dialogue between local and international investors.

The ‘Anti-Mugabe’ Countries

Lately, major multinational companies have shown their interest of doing business in Zimbabwe – including those from ‘Anti-Mugabe’ countries as we witnessed a visit of American business group, the Corporate Council on Africa, which represents 180 American companies – last year in Harare with intentions of strengthening, assuring and nourishing ‘broken’ relationship between these countries.

France was also one of European countries to dispatch a re-engagement delegation to Zimbabwe to convince officials that country is prepared to establish healthy relationships. The engagement was the first since EU and Zimbabwe’s relations became bitter after Britain internationalised a bilateral dispute over the land reform programme.

The Newly Announced Bond Notes

Delegates will no doubt, question the newly announced ‘Bond notes’ by the Zimbabwe Central Bank Governor, John Mangudya earlier this month. The bond notes, according to governor, will be backed by $200m (£140m) support from the Africa Export-Import Bank.

The announcement, which received mixed emotions from various sectors including general commuters, businesses, financial institutions, traders and politicians, is expected to kick-start soon.

Indigenisation Law

The so called ‘controversial law’ will also take centre-stage as most foreign companies felt uncomfortable when the Minister Patrick Zhuwao, announces the deadline of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (IEE) Act – which enforces foreign-owned firms to submit their indigenisation plans as pronounced by the end of last year. The law requires these firms to only hold a 49 percent stake in the business.

The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was passed in 2008 but implementation has been slow with most foreign companies resisting to accept the Act.

The need of such engagements [Conferences] plays a vital role in boosting and rebuilding the country’s investment confidence.  More African countries need such ‘Investor-Convincing’ conferences to retain existing investors and to attract potential investors. This is no doubt that Zimbabwe [in coming years] will be among top African countries to do business with.

Mthokozisi Ndlovu is a public relations and strategic communication professional based in South Africa.


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