The Sunday Mail
Happiness Zengeni in Davos, Switzerland
The African Development Bank is pleased with Zimbabwe’s economic policies and could soon start extending critical funding to the country.
A high-level delegation from the bank will be in Harare soon for major talks with Government, with resolution of Zimbabwe’s external arrears featuring in those discussions.
Focus will also be on energy, agriculture, infrastructure development and youth enterprise — areas the multilateral financing institution has shown keen interest in.
Zimbabwe has not been accessing direct funding from the AfDB, World Bank and IMF on the back of arrears of US$1,8 billion.
US$627 million of this sum is owed to the AfDB whose economic interventions in the Southern African nation have been restricted to grants and capacity-building.
Now, the President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration’s strategies — like prudent fiscal control and improving the business environment — have caught the institution’s attention.
The IMF is also keen to re-engage on arrears clearance and fresh funding.
Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha told The Sunday Mail on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum here last week that the AfDB had noted Government efforts to engineer economic development.
Dr Bimha said this after a meeting between President Mnangagwa and AfDB president Dr Akinumwi Adesina.
“The long and short of it is that they are very supportive of our efforts to grow the economy. As the African Development Bank, their take is that there is a lot of potential in Zimbabwe, but that potential alone cannot take us out of the challenges that we are facing.
“They said we need support and the right policies. Their issue is that they seem to see that we are now putting the right policies (in place) with regard to issues like indigenisation, arrears clearance and ease of doing business. They said we are putting in place the right environment and what we now need is AfDB support.”
Dr Bimha said AfDB officials will visit Zimbabwe soon to discuss arrears clearance after which the bank could resume funding support.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the WEF had enabled Zimbabwe to market its expansive investment opportunities and attract expressions of interest from international investors.
He told this paper: “Davos is a meeting place to make contact; not to conclude deals, but to make contact with business leaders from all over the world. Even the political leaders who are coming here are coming to advance economic interests of their countries and not to discuss politics.”
Minister Chinamasa said President Mnangagwa had articulated Zimbabwe’s agenda remarkably and left the gathering in no doubt that the country was open for business.
“His Excellency has been very busy; he has had a very busy schedule with respect to meeting and making contact with global business leaders. So, it’s a good experience, a good platform for us, a good opportunity for us. His Excellency gave a lot of interviews to CNN, BBC and so on, and I think those interviews are going to be impactful in terms of sending out our clear message that Zimbabwe is open for business.”
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo added: “New relations seem to be developing from a bilateral perspective. Different governments are growing familiar and accustomed to the new administration. Already, several companies made commitments and expressions of interest.”
Over 3 000 business leaders, senior government officials/policy-makers and social change advocates converged on the alpine town to explore means of resolving major global challenges, among them inequality, climate change, youth unemployment and armed conflict.
In secluded meeting rooms and out in the open, people interacted, argued and exchanged opinion – all in the friendly spirit of engagement and advancement.
The forum is an opportunity for international investors to exchange notes on commerce around the globe and for lucrative investment destinations to market their brands.
President Mnangagwa was the first Zimbabwean leader to be invited to the prestigious forum and featured on the panel discussion, “An Insight an Idea, with Emmerson Mnangagwa”.
He met Switzerland’s President Alain Berset, IMF head Christine Lagarde, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, Dr Adesina, and several African leaders or their representatives.
His diary also included a visit by Trafigura head Mr Jose Laroca, and officials from Nestle, the UNDP and VT Bank of Russia.
The President met a group of top executives from African Rainbow Minerals, Tongaat Hullet, Puma and others.
Themed “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”, the four-day forum was exclusively co-chaired by women: Sharan Burrow (General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation), Fabiola Gianotti (Director-General of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research), Isabelle Kocher (CEO of ENGIE), Lagarde, Ginni Rometty (chairperson, president and CEO of IBM Corporation), Chetna Sinha (founder and chair of the Mann Deshi Foundation) and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway.