By Happiness Zengeni
President Mnangagwa has a difficult, but surmountable task in fostering economic growth and development after two decades of isolation, and he believes the multi-pronged approach that Zimbabwe is pursuing will yield significant results.
The approach is anchored on the need to create a conducive business environment, which ultimately culminates in the increase of foreign capital inflows in the country.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) 2018, underway here, presents a platform for the country to present itself to the world on the opportunities and guarantees it is giving to foreign investors.
In an interview with The Herald on the sidelines of the ongoing WEF here, President Mnangagwa was optimistic that Zimbabwe would attract FDI going forward.
“Already, we have seen increased inflows of foreign capital in the country in just over 60 days,” he said.
“The volume of commitments is already beyond what we would get in a year in the past. At the end of the year, in my personal view, we might close the year catching up or possibly outstripping some of our neighbours in terms of the capital we will attract to the country.”
Last week, President Mnangagwa while addressing youths during a meeting organised by Global Shapers Community in Harare, said “billions” had been brought into the country since his inauguration.
A positive change in foreign inflows would immediately help deal with the liquidity crisis, which has resulted in the shortage of foreign currency, reduce interest rates and the overall cost of capital.
But in line with globalisation, Zimbabwe urgently requires FDI targeted at technology to mainstream its value chains and produce goods at competitive rates, ultimately creating a perpetual investment cycle that is yet to be achieved in much of the developing world.
President Mnangagwa reiterated that Zimbabwe was open for business, but this is largely a message to international investors. To Zimbabweans, he emphasised the desire to bring economic growth while commending the support Government was getting from its citizens.
“I am happy that Zimbabwe is united and that its populace continues to support Government,” said President Mnangagwa. “They have high expectations of this to change and I would not want to fail them. We must make sure we create jobs, jobs and jobs. And to do so, we must have FDI coming in.”
President Mnangagwa said the approach to economic growth was multiple-pronged, spread across the sectors.
“Ours is three, possibly four pronged approach,” he said. “We have investors looking at agriculture (in its value chains), looking for mining opportunities in both primary and secondary sectors. We also have investors interested in infrastructure development, especially from China, to construct railway networks in and outside the country. We also have projects for the dualisation of the highways. There are also people interested in energy here and they are mostly French, you know there is a deficit in that space in Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa said that could not be achieved in just over two months, but it’s a medium to long-term outlook.
“These projects cannot be completed in 60 days, but the point is, work on them has started,” he said.
He was upbeat about the interactions he made at the WEF.
“I don’t know how the conference felt about my presence,” he said. “But I was quite at home. I met people I have never met before like Al Gore (former US Vice President), John Kerry, former US secretary of State and other world leaders. But more importantly, I had businesses, banks and other institutions lining up to see me. I am unable to fulfil some of the requests (for meetings). So many leaders I have met who have promised to send representatives to Zimbabwe and are interested to invest. But there are two categories; some are saying they will wait for elections. It’s understandable because of the past events and the perception about Zimbabwe, some people would like to ‘wait and see’. But the majority, however, are keen to find a niche and eager to invest in Zimbabwe.”
In between the conference, President Mnangagwa and his delegation were holding bilateral meetings with countries and institutions.
The Davos WEF runs from January 23 to 26 under the theme “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.”