The Sunday Mail
THE 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) that ended here yesterday, dovetails with Government’s economic thrust to prioritise industrialisation and modernisation as key aspects to sustainable economic growth.
This was said by President Mnangagwa while officially opening the highly subscribed fair on Friday.
Government plans to turnaround the economy and turn Zimbabwe into a middle income economy by 2030.
President Mnangagwa said the ZITF, which ran under the theme; ‘Sustainable Industrial Development: Inclusive-Competitive-Collaborative’, resonated with Government’s economic thrust.
“We are encouraged by the overwhelming response and sense of belief in this achievable vision (2030),” said President Mnangagwa.
He said to achieve the vision; there was need for the creation of decent jobs, broad based empowerment, increased investments, elimination of poverty and corruption.
President Mnangagwa warned all Government officials to desist from soliciting bribes at every levels, particularly from investors.
Government is already implementing a raft of measures to boost the viability and competitiveness of business across all sectors of the economy.
Chief among the measures is the drive to eliminate cost of doing business in the country, which has previously kept investors at bay.
Critically, Government has since amended the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act’s requirement that locals should hold a 51 percent stake in all sectors of the economy while foreigners control 49 percent.
However, the requirement —described by most investors as toxic for a country seeking to re-industrialise — has since been repealed for all other sectors apart from platinum and diamonds.
But investors eyeing to set shop in platinum and diamond beneficiation and value addition are still open to owning their businesses 100 percent.
President Mnangagwa said his administration recognises the need for a comprehensive approach to attracting both domestic and foreign investment in the quest to catapult the economy and become “one of the most industrialised economies in Africa”.
“Hence, on the domestic front, mechanisms are in place to support the resuscitation, retooling, expansion and modernisation of various industries through fiscal and monetary incentives; the mobilisation of concessionary long-term financing and continuous improvement of the business environment,” he said.
“The domestic industry and business alike, should not be spectators or mere commentators with regards to the current economic agenda, but should instead be in the forefront of collaborating and partnering Government in exploiting available opportunities.”
As Government focuses on growing the economy, it has identified priority areas such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, infrastructure development, ICT and the financial services sector.
The sectors would be supported by a rigorous investment promotion drive through the re-engagement efforts to lure foreign direct investment.
This has seen President Mnangagwa declaring that ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’.
Already, the country has received overwhelming response from potential investors who are enquiring about investment opportunities.
Firm investment commitments have been made and negotiations are underway to see them materialising.
ZIA alone has approved investment proposals of almost US$1 billion in the first quarter, which is a quantum leap from the US$150 million approvals recorded in the same period last year.
Statistics from ZIA exclude huge investments such as Karo Resources’ US$4,2 billion platinum deal.
Further, a US$1,4 billion Matabeleland North province lithium deal has been inked.
President Mnangagwa also invited domestic and foreign investors to tap into the diverse opportunities offered under Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
He explained that dialogue under SEZs, and views expressed during last Wednesday’s International Business Conference at the ZITF together with knowledge and best practices received from international experts, were insightful and useful as Government accelerates their implementation.
The designation of SEZs is on-going and will be both area and commodity based.
Victoria Falls has been designated as the tourism and financial SEZ and the President’s recent State visit to China will see the acceleration its implementation. Bulawayo has been earmarked as an industrial, cultural and conferencing hub SEZ.
ZITF Company has already positioned itself to benefit from SEZ after announcing that it plans to erect a hotel and conference centre that houses 8000 delegates.