By Freeman Razemba
A nine-member Chinese delegation from Touch International Holdings Group, which has signed a $1,2 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government in the tourism and hospitality industry, arrived yesterday.
The delegation, led by the group’s chairperson Mr He Liehui, touched down at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport mid-morning.
It includes Ms Zhu Xiaochen (secretary), Mr Jiang Qi, Mr Zhang Weifeng and Mr Wang Wei, who are all engineers. Others members of the delegation are Mr Shi Huazhong, Mr Mengao, Mr Liu Yifan and Shen Jinhua.
It is believed that the Chinese delegation is an advance team for 17 Chinese billionaires who are expected in the country in June.
In an interview, Mr He said the team was in the country on a scouting mission.
“We have come to Zimbabwe to see opportunities for investments,” he said.
“So, we will see some areas like Victoria Falls and Harare City. We try to see opportunities for investment and also for tourism. We are also interested in industrial and low-cost housing.”
Mr He said any envisaged investment would depend on the project.
“We need to do feasibility research and to find out how we can work,” he said.
“We need to finish all the process, to get approval, to get all documents.”
Mr He said there were inherent investment opportunities in the country.
“Zimbabwe is a good country and we believe there are many opportunities we can work on and we think after some time, the economy of Zimbabwe will be booming,” he said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Mr Karikoga Kaseke said in an interview yesterday that the visit by officials from Touch International Holdings was a follow-up to President Mnangagwa’s five-day State visit to China.
“This is a follow-up of the visit of early this month by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde ED Mnangagwa, when he went with a delegation to China of businesspeople from this country and parastatal heads, including myself and a couple of ministers,” he said.
“This is the group that signed the MoU with Touchroad International Holdings Private Limited, which is very much interested in the tourism sector.
Mr Kaseke said this was an advance team that had come to plan and arrange for meetings of the billionaires that would be coming in June.
“They have come to plan and put a programme in place for the 17 billionaires – let me emphasise, for the 17 billionaires that are coming in June,” he said. “So, this is an advance party that has come to arrange the meetings and we want to hear from them which sectors they are interested in.
“But I think they should be interested in all sectors. So, basically, this is the advance team that has come to arrange for the group that will be coming in June – definitely not beyond June – and we are very much happy, very thrilled that at least you know that a lot of people were doubting saying Zimbabwe just says “China billions, China billions, this billions that billions”.
“That is true, the contract we signed with this Touchroad Group is $1,2 billion, but the investment they are going to bring to this country is going to be well over $3 billion or so. So, let’s wait and see. This is the beginning of the journey. Let’s wait and see where the journey ends.”
Mr Kaseke said recently said the deal showed that indeed Zimbabwe was now open for business.
He applauded the new political administration led by President Mnangagwa.
Touchroad International Holdings is a privately owned company headquartered in Shanghai, China, with business interests in several sectors.
Its international arm has operations in more than 25 African countries that include Namibia and Djibouti.
The MoU signed recently will enable Chinese investors to invest in local special economic zones (SEZs), including Victoria Falls, which has been designated as one such a zone.
In terms of the agreement, parties shall exchange tourism and hospitality industry investment policies, rules, regulations, procedures, incentives and opportunities, including general updates on business data with a view to making them accessible to potential investors.
ZTA has been tasked to operationalise the project.
The parties shall also encourage joint research activities whenever possible and are required to facilitate investment and joint projects.
Parties to the agreement are also expected to promote the services of the other party in Zimbabwe, China and at regional and international fora.