Prospects for local industrial growth are brighter this year, with more company resuscitations expected as the country continues to gain ground as a fertile investment destination, a senior official has said.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, Industry, Commerce and Enterprises Development Minister, Dr Mike Bimha said investors, both foreign and domestic, are warming up to Zimbabwe.
President Emmewrson Mnangagwa has been reiterating that Zimbabwe is open for business.
Dr Bimha indicated that interest is mainly in the manufacturing sector, especially the agro-processing businesses.
“In 2018, we are going to see more company resuscitations, we are going to see more investments coming into the country, for already existing businesses and for new operations.
“More of our people in the diaspora are also coming to invest back home, especially in the agro-processing industry,” Dr Bimha said on the sidelines of the commissioning of a Unilever Zimbabwe automated packaging plant last week.
Unilever had scaled down its operations in Zimbabwe but last week, Unilever president for Africa, Mr Bruno Witvoet expressed the firm’s commitment to work with the Government towards re-industrialisation, creation of jobs across the value chain, boosting exports and improving the country’s foreign currency earnings.
He said his firm, which has been in Zimbabwe for the past 75 years, believe in Zimbabwe’s future.
Industrialists and economists concur that prospects are bright for the country, with positive investor sentiment prevailing following a change in the country’s administration last November.
Last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa emphasised the country’s preparedness for business during his engagements in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum.
He has also revealed that foreign direct investment commitments in the past seven weeks have already hit the $3 billion mark.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor, Dr Kupukile Mlambo, who was also at the Unilever plant commissioning, said despite the foreign currency challenges being experienced, there is room for local industry’s expansion.
He said existing companies will face stiff competition from the upcoming firms.
As such, the central bank is working on initiatives to ensure the availability of foreign currency to cushion existing companies as well as the new ones.
“The central bank understands the challenges of foreign currency and realises we need to put resources into activities that generate foreign currency.
“When we are saying Zimbabwe is open for business, we need to prepare the existing businesses for the competition that is coming with new investors.
So we will look at helping to rehabilitate industry to stand the heat,” said Dr Mlambo.
The new dispensation has promised not to leave any stone unturned in its endeavours to achieve quick returns for the country that suffered over two decades of disinvestment.
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