Enacy Mapakame Business Reporter
Zimbabwe is working on several economic initiatives aimed at boosting the country’s competitiveness in the region, facilitate trade and attract the much needed foreign direct investment (FDI).
This was said by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, who also said that establishment of one-stop border posts had potential to enable smooth flow of trade in the region, enhance investment and help unlock millions of dollars in export earnings for Zimbabwe.
The minister said Zimbabwe was strategically located in the Southern Africa region and its reform initiatives should enhance ease of doing business and promote smooth flow of traffic at border posts.
Minister Ncube’s remarks come after the Chirundu one-stop-border-post completed in 2012 has already helped increase the country’s export earnings from Zambia by between $2,2 million and $3,1 million.
Presenting on promoting investment into landlocked developing countries in Switzerland yesterday, Minister Ncube touched on issues of transit policy, infrastructure development, international trade and trade facilitation and integration, which he said were all crucial in promoting investment.
He drew from Zimbabwe’s experiences as a landlocked country and how it could create linkages within the region to boost trade.
“Zimbabwe is located at a strategic position as a transit country within the Southern African sub-region. In recognition of this the country has harmonised transit policies in line with COMESA and SADC protocol on transit trade.
“Aside from that, Zimbabwe is establishing one – stop border posts to facilitate smooth transit of both people and goods across the borders,” he said.
Infrastructure has also been identified as a key enabler for economic transformation, the minister said. Rehabilitation of road infrastructure is also taking centre stage as part of the country’s efforts to enhance the smooth movement of goods across the country and those in transit.
Minister Ncube said several road rehabilitation projects were in progress in Zimbabwe while others had already been completed and records showed a massive improvement in economic efficiency.
He said that a good road network system cuts costs, improves competitiveness as well as reduce transit time.
“For those projects already completed, a cost time distance study by Government has shown that average speed of heavy trucks has increased from 33km per hour prior to the rehabilitation exercise to 48km per hour,” said Minister.
One of the major challenges local industry has faced in the past decade includes utilities supplies, which have been inconsistent resulting in companies incurring huge overheads. To avert energy supply challenges for instance, the country has made efforts towards promoting renewable energy.
Zimbabwe is also signatory to regional treaties that facilitate trade and investment. In this respect Minister Ncube identified 35 bilateral investment treaties with 10 of them already in force providing for pre and post investment facilitation and protection.
Additionally, the country has been working on ease of doing business reforms aimed at boosting the country’s competitiveness to attract FDI. Some of the key measures undertaken under these initiatives include establishment of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Authority — a one stop investment service centre as well as the promulgation of Special Economic Zones.