Zim loses out on foreign deals

The government takes too long to approve investment proposals, a top visiting Indian businessman has said.

Ethiopia’s open economy should be an example for Zimbabwe.
Ethiopia’s open economy should be an example for Zimbabwe.

All international investment projects are approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, currently led by Richard Mubaiwa. However, the government has been criticised for being slow to approve deals and unwilling to work with foreigners.

Sri Srivastava, a top visiting Indian businessman, said his engineering firm was interested in deals worth at least $20 million. The Ministry of Agriculture is his top priority area. Srivastava was part of the more than 25-member delegation that jetted into Harare for a one-day investment conference recently, a follow-up to one held last September.

“I am looking at investment worth about $20 million,” he said. “Our firm deals with huge projects and we have invested in more than 25 African nations, including Zambia, the DRC, South Africa and Malawi. However, it is sad to note that your government is very slow in approving Projects. It is also slow when it comes to taking the initiative to work with foreigners.”

There is a keen interest in India to invest in Zimbabwe. A multi-million dollar investment has already taken place aimed at resuscitating the vital iron and steel works at Zisco, which had collapsed due to mismanagement and corruption. Political interference continues to hamstring this project. Other Indian investors have expressed keen interest in the diamond industry.

Srivastava said the Indian government was also worried about the decision to indigenise the economy when it made more sense to allow investors to work in the country and invest some of their profits here instead of “penalising them”.

“Why would anyone invest here when you cannot take home any profit?” he asked.

Other delegates at the conference also expressed concern over this issue.

“Just look at what happened to commercial farmers – they had their

farms taken away from them. We are worried about your investment regulations because they are slow and not very clear either,” said another Indian businessman. “Look at Zambia, their mining industry has picked up very well because they are investor-friendly.”

He said other African nations such as Ethiopia had much better regulations than Zimbabwe.

“Just look at their airline (Ethiopia) which is among the best in Africa. This is because their economy is open.”

Srivastava said his engineering firm could sign deals with Zimbabwe in areas such as irrigation, engineering equipment and building machinery for the business sector. But he expressed concern at the possibility of elections, saying: “This could seriously affect your business sector and prospects.”

Post published in: Africa News

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