Delegations from several countries among them Germany, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and Nigeria visited Zimbabwe, but European diplomats told the Zimbabwe Independent this week most business people ultimately decided to invest elsewhere in the region.
The country has been increasingly seen as a bad investment destination due to unpredictable policies and a poor business environment. Most business delegations have cited lack of respect for property rights, violation of the rule of law and the contentious indigenisation policy which states that that indigenous persons should own 51% of every business as stumbling blocks to investment.
The Ministry of Macro-Economic Planning and Investment Promotion permanent secretary, Desire Sibanda, confirmed in an interview that Zimbabwe had not benefitted much from the visits.
He said his ministry was worried by the trend and was actively trying to address the situation.
Sibanda said he hoped ammendments made to the Indigenisation Act had addressed concerns of investors.
“Last year we had close to 80 business delegations which is very high, but these have not translated to increase in investment and we are very concerned which is why in 2016 we have agreed on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Act,” said Sibanda.
SEZs are designated areas in countries that possess special economic regulations that are different from other areas in the same country. Regulations of SEZs tend to contain measures that are conducive to foreign direct investment such as tax incentives for companies conducting business in a SEZ.
Sibanda said Victoria Falls had been earmarked to become one of the SEZs in Zimbabwe.
He said his ministry is taking steps to improve the country as an investment destination by introducing incentives for investors.
“We are working with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and CBZ Bank to improve on the bankability of projects as investors require competitive incentives,” he said.
Sibanda said his ministry has also lined up investment visits to other countries.
“To improve and attract investment in 2016, we are going to visit other economies particularly what we call the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa),” he said.
Sibanda said there was however hope that Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote would invest in the country. Dangote has interests in manufacturing, energy, and coal mining in different countries.
“Our ministry has met Dangote and proposed projects with him are moving at a good pace. He has been around the country looking at the location of some of his manufacturing concerns and has had lengthy meetings with our geologists,” he said.