Zimbabwe is open for business

Under the new dispensation of President Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s economic transformation is driven by a stable political environment, improved business confidence, re-engagement of  bilateral investments in the country and anticipated turnaround from key economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, industry, ICT and tourism.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos this January, President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa put the global marketplace on notice that Zimbabwe is now “open for business.” Since coming into power last year in November, ED, as he is affectionately known, has made his intention clear that Zimbabwe has to discard its isolationist policies which led to the country being behind by nearly two decades. He has underscored the urgent need to pursue rapid economic growth and a trajectory of transformation. “Opening  up  Zimbabwe  for  business  means  that  we  can  trade  freely  with  the  rest  of  the  world  and  that  we  can  access  capital  freely  and  invest  more  in  the  infrastructure,” says Lazarus Muchenje, CEO, NetOne. In this endeavour, this administration’s focus is on the pursuit of investment-led economic recovery, job creation while enhancing the ease of doing business, all moving towards the national vision to be a middle-income country by 2030.

Since his announcement, the spirit of the new dispensation has spread outside the borders and the nation has been hugely encouraged by the goodwill it has received from abroad. Dr. John Mangudya, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, states: “We  want  to  increase  the  footprint  of  business  in  Zimbabwe.  It  means  that  we  are  changing  the  narrative,  from  a  closed  economy  to  an  open  economy.” This renewed domestic and foreign investor confidence has seen Zimbabwe’s projected economic growth increase from 3.7% to 4.5% in 2018. Investment as well, keeps on pouring in with the country raking in a record-breaking, US$16 Billion in foreign investment since January. This upward momentum is underpinned by the positive performance in the agriculture, mining, industry, tourism and financial sectors, and is further spurred by increased revenue performance following the plugging of revenue leakages.


Agriculture to a large extent determines the potential growth of the economy and the sector accounts for 50% of employment in the country. Agriculture contributes 15% of the country’s GDP and accounts for 25% of total annual exports, with tobacco being the country’s single highest foreign currency earner. Building on the auspices of Command Agriculture, the current dispensation has geared itself towards continued food self-sufficiency and nutrition, and increased land utilisation and productivity, through mechanisation and modernisation of its agriculture sector. Hungry to re-establish the nation’s Bread Basket status in the continent, Mnangagwa is looking abroad to help reinvest within the country. The People’s Republic of China has pledged to assist in the drilling of boreholes throughout the country, while Russia and Belarus have made firm commitments to set up agriculture and engineering plants in Zimbabwe. “The government-initiated Command Agriculture has had a very positive effect,” states Peter Zimunya, Managing Director, CBZ Bank. “The support ignited interest in agriculture and now people are seeing its potential, including financial institutions which were doubting the profitability of the sector.”


“This  new  mantra  is  a  drive  for  the  mining  sector  to  attract  the  much-needed  capital,  to  increase  operational  capacities,  to  have  new  investments  in  new  projects,  to  have  new  money  coming  in  for  explorations,” states Hon. Winston Chitando, Minister of Mines and Mining Development. As one of the leading sources of investment and export earnings, the new dispensation has sent a clear message to investors by amending its Indigenisation Policy, limiting the 51:49% ratio to diamond and platinum mining only. Already, the nation has been inundated with multi-million dollar investments. The recently signed US$4.2 billion platinum investment agreement by Karo Resources is the largest investment in Zimbabwe’s mining sector to date and will directly create 15,000 jobs. Optimism remains high in the extractive sector with gold production projected at over 30 tonnes and 4.6 million carats targeted in diamond production for the first time since organised mining started. The country’s mineral exports for the first quarter of the year leapt by 12% to US$372.5 million, owing to the new dispensation’s policies.


Following definitive local and foreign investment commitments, the industry and the manufacturing sectors have witnessed a steady increase in capacity utilisation and notable expansion of some big brands such as Nestle and Pepsi. “The US$16 billion worth of foreign direct investment commitments to Zimbabwe show the country is ready for business and the economic turnaround is around the corner,” states Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe. As the big contributor to forex in the country, Zimbabwe’s industrial sector needs to reduce its import bill and ramp up its capacity. Rhett Groves, Head of Corporate and Investment Banking, Stanbic Bank, points out that “if  the  economy  opens  up  and  we  are  able  to  structure  lines  of  credit, we  should  have  a  very  good  pipeline  in  terms  of  resuscitating  industry  and  commerce.”

“ ‘Open for business’ sets  a  tone  to  encourage  a  change  in  attitude,” states Jonas Mushosho, Group CEO, Old Mutual. “If we take appropriate  actions,  the  country  can  experience  an  unprecedented  level  of  improvement  in  its  economy  and  its  operative  environment.” With vast natural resources and resilient human capital, Douglas Mboweni, Managing Director, Econet, believes that “ ‘Open  for  business’  is  an  obligation  for  us  to  become  attractive” while Samuel Matsekete, CEO, Barclays Zimbabwe, affirms that “the  mantra  has  resuscitated  the  creation  of  business.” While there is still much work to be done to leapfrog development, Mnangagwa’s pro-business call to the international investment community has already begun to bear fruit in such a short time.

Latest posts