ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe is a case of a glass, where an optimist investor sees a half full glass, while his pessimist counterpart sees a half empty glass.
Investors such as Mr Aliko Dangote, Nigeria and Africa’s richest man with a net worth of over US$17 billion, see Zimbabwe as a half full glass.
While investors from the West see an adverse and hopeless situation in Zimbabwe, Mr Dangote has seen an investment opportunity that will indubitably bring grist to his mill. That investment potential has inspired the business magnate to invest billions of dollars in Zimbabwe’s key economic areas of mining, energy and cement production.
The investments will go a long way in resurrecting the economy that was ravaged by the illegal sanctions imposed by the West at the behest of the MDC party. The investment news is a thorn in the flesh of the MDC-T which always seeks to flourish on the economic crisis. This is more so after its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai vowed soon after his July 2013 electoral drubbing, that he would escalate economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
The MDC-T has been putting pressure on President Mugabe to consider another inclusive government supposedly to arrest the economic challenges. The party knows that with such investments pouring in, their grand plan will be completely defeated. As a result, members of this party have rushed to cast a cloud of pessimism over the business deals.
A check with other countries where he has some interests will tell you that the Nigerian mogul is not a man of colourful promises only. He is an honest and shrewd businessperson who means what he says. This he confirmed himself.
“We are not here looking to invest, we have already made up our mind to invest, so we are here and we will invest,” said Mr Dangote.
Of course, other mega deals petered out either in infancy or before taking off. A prime example is the Essar deal that had injected so much hope in people, only to die out in infancy. Government must never allow a repeat of the same.
The investor has thrown the ball into government court. It is now up to the authorities to set ball rolling.
Mr Dangote said the timeframe for the investment was dependent on getting all the documentation. In other words, the timeframe depends on the government. It should not be business as usual for government on this deal. The usual red tape involved in approving an investment must not be allowed to stifle this jumbo investment.
The investment is set to create massive employment that will cover up the vacuum left by job cuts spurred by the Supreme Court ruling which has so far left 20 000 people jobless.
It will also breathe a new lease of life into the economy. Energy, a key enabler of the economy, will be immensely boosted up if the power generation project takes off. Zimbabwe currently generates around 1300 megawatts against a peak national demand of around 2200 megawatts.
The availability of cement is also set to increase, as the proposed investment will provide an additional one and half million tonnes of cement per year on the market. That will also translate into the price and cost reduction of cement and construction of houses.
Other investors must take cue from Mr Dangote. An investor worth his salt will not fold his hands while other investors are tapping on the abundant business opportunities in Zimbabwe.
While visiting an uncle on his farm last week, this writer was at pain to explain, after being quizzed by a grade five son, on why he did not also have a farm. Of course, yours truly was on a tour of duty during the peak of the land reform programme when it was still very easy to acquire a piece of land.
The time will come when investors who are shunning Zimbabwe today on the basis of politics, will regret to wake up one day to see how other investors like Mr Dangote, would have tremendously benefitted from investing in Zimbabwe. They will have a torrid time to explain to posterity why they took that retrogressive decision of shunning investment in a country that is abundantly blessed with resources.
The history of economic revival will not be complete without mentioning Josey Mahachi, a Zimbabwean woman who works for M-Net in Nigeria. She deserves honour for her role in facilitating the golden visit. As President Mugabe describes her, she is an ambassador par excellence.
Most of the Zimbabweans of her age in the Diasporas are seized with the agenda of demonising their own country. Some have set up pirate radio stations dedicated for the propagation of negative publicity of their own country. Some acquired asylum status on account of manufactured stories. Many a time, visitors from abroad testify that there is incongruity between what they see on the ground and what they are fed by the media.
Zimbabwe is a safe journey for investors, otherwise, Mr Dangote would never had decided to pour in his billions. The Chinese and Russians are also set to invest in mega businesses. That alone authenticates the safety. Even the West itself is beginning to see light, hence the re-engagement efforts.
Tafara Shumba email@example.com