The Sunday Mail
Fungi Kwaramba in RIYADH, Saudi Arabia
ZIMBABWE’S vast mineral resources, particularly iron and lithium, place the country in a critical position in the global transition from fossil fuels to green energy and, therefore, the country must be a player in the International Energy Forum (IEF)’s decision-making process.
Yesterday, Zimbabwe was invited to join IEF, the world’s largest gathering of energy-producing and consuming countries, accounting for more than 90 percent of global oil and gas supply and demand.
With its massive lithium deposits, Zimbabwe is forecast to meet 25 percent of global demand as early as next year.
Apart from lithium, the country also boasts huge deposits of iron ore and will soon start exporting iron and steel from the Manhize plant, where a giant US$1 billion project is set to position the country as the biggest steel producer on the continent.
President Mnangagwa — who attended the Saudi-Africa Summit on Friday — told investors here that his Government was ready to roll the red carpet for investors from the oil-rich region to grab opportunities in various sectors of the economy such as agriculture and mining.
And yesterday, IEF secretary-general Mr Joseph McMonigle paid a courtesy call on the President, before briefing journalists after the meeting that Zimbabwe was now a critical player in the global energy sector.
“As an organisation, we have producers of energy and consumers of energy; we have 30 members from Africa,” he said.
“During the meeting with the President, we were inviting Zimbabwe to join other member states from Africa.
“We spoke a little about energy markets. Energy is a key ingredient to growing economies.
“Zimbabwe also has vast deposits of critical minerals essential for steel making and energy transition; it also has huge lithium deposits.
“There are many resources within Zimbabwe that are important for the global energy sector, so it is important that Zimbabwe joins the IEF and raises its voice, that’s why I came to meet the President.”
According to its website, IEA (International Energy Agency) and OPEC countries, transit states and key energy players like Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa participate in the forum.
“The magnitude and diversity of this engagement is a testament to the IEF’s position as a neutral facilitator. Through the International Energy Forum and its associated events, IEF ministers, their officials, energy industry executives and other experts engage in a dialogue of increasing importance to global energy security”.
The invitation of Zimbabwe to join the IEF is seen as a huge endorsement of Harare’s economic revival and its engagement and re-engagement drive.
On Friday, President Mnangagwa — who is expected in Cairo, Egypt, today for the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2023 — told investors gathered in Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital, that Africa and the Arab Peninsula are natural partners through historical, cultural and economic exchanges.
“This forum, therefore, offers a forum and institutional framework to foster Saudi-Africa cooperation as we modernise and industrialise our respective countries. Further, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is equally a valuable partner for the realisation of global peace and security in our region. Zimbabwe is pleased to be part of this historic summit,” said the President.
“Similarly, Zimbabwe is greatly concerned with the tragic events unfolding in Gaza, in violation of humanitarian international laws. We reiterate our call for the revival of political processes towards lasting peace in that region.”
Saudi Arabia imports mostly metal products, copper and articles, live animals, fruits, coffee, tea and spices, and has of late expressed interest in lithium, of which Zimbabwe has in abundance.
Last month, a high-powered delegation from Saudi Arabia led by special envoy Mr Adel Ahmed al Jubeir met President Mnangagwa and indicated interest in investing in Zimbabwe, especially in the agriculture and mining sectors.
During the inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit, Zimbabwe signed several memoranda of understanding, with investors keen on doing business with Harare.