Italian firms to invest in Zim energy sector


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ZIMBABWE – Two Italian firms met government officials at a recently held expo in Milan on how they could invest in Zimbabwe’s energy sector, Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha has said.

Addressing journalists last week, Bimha said while he was attending the Milan Expo, he met senior Italian government officials, who spoke about investing in Zimbabwe, with particular interests in energy.

“I met with some Italian firms that showed interest in investing in food processing, mining and energy, in particular solar. They spoke about investing in and setting up a solar unit which would manufacture solar panels,” Bimha said.

The minister was attending this year’s edition of the Milan Expo on the day Zimbabwe was afforded time to showcase what it had to offer on August 31.

Of these firms, two showed interest and engaged the minister privately to speak keenly on investing in solar energy, he said.

It is expected that the firms will invest in the manufacturing of solar panels and create a commercially viable business in selling locally-produced solar panels, with potential of exporting to other markets.

In July, Italy’s Secretary of State for Renewable Energy Sector in the Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation department, Mario Giro, told journalists that there was room to invest in the renewable energy sector.

He is the highest-ranking Italian official to visit the country in 16 years due to the thawing of relations between Harare and the European Union bloc.

“In the renewable energy sector, particularly solar panels, we are trying to foster this sector because it is also a sector that can reach the people at the very base of society,” Giro said.

“We need to improve the energy sector in order to improve the economy, not only for big works, but to also address the needs of the population.”

Bimha said the Zimbabwean delegation was well received at the Milan Expo and during the official opening ceremony, Giro highlighted the importance of the two countries’ relations.

Giro, Bimha said, “indicated the importance of matching Italian sectors to Zimbabwe’s untapped opportunities, notably agro-businesses, infrastructure, and renewable energies”.

Bimha could not be drawn into revealing the names of Italian companies interested in investing in Zimbabwe’s energy sector.

Bimha’ visit to Milan marks the first active step taken towards realising the deal between those Italian firms and Zimbabwe.

Bimha said by investing in solar, the Italian government hopes to help in the creating more jobs in the country.
The country’s economic blueprint, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, hopes to create 2,2 million jobs by 2018.

However, a number of companies are shutting down due to the harsh economic environment.

Analysts say Zimbabwe needs foreign direct investment inflows to grow the economy and create jobs.

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