By Chido Chikuni
Zimbabwe’s participation at this year’s 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum,(WEF), in Davos, Switzerland is a big opportunity for her to lure Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
According to its website, the WEF is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation committed to improving the state of the world. The WEFs’ main aim is of shaping the global, regional and industrial agendas by bringing people together through dialogue.
Zimbabwe had been isolated from potential trading partners for a long time due to illegal sanctions imposed on it by the West. Sanctions have been causing a lot of economic challenges and affecting development in the country. Unlike many other African countries that were progressively developing owing to investment from foreign investors, Zimbabwe has been lagging behind and this has been a major stumbling block on its economic growth.
However, it is pleasing that Minister of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube is representing Zimbabwe at this year’s WEF. The 2020 World Economic Forum is running under the theme, ‘Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World.’
The key objective of this years’ WEF is to assist governments and international institutions in tracking progress towards the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as facilitating discussions on technology and trade governance. Thus, the Paris Agreement, in simpler terms, means an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance, signed in 2016.
Zimbabwe’s presence and participation at the WEF is a great opportunity for it to market itself to investors as well as pushing its ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’ mantra and the ease of doing business policy. It is also one of the aims of WEF to help businesses to create the models necessary to drive enterprise in the Fourth Industrial Revolution as well as how to navigate initiatives in a world exposed to political tensions and driven by technological change as well as increasing expectations from all stakeholders.
Posting on his official twitter handle, Professor Ncube highlighted that among other activities, he held a meeting with Switzerland Minister of Finance, Daniela Stoffel. Minister Ncube tweeted that, “Davos WEF 2020: Meeting the State Minister for Finance of Switzerland, Hon Daniela Stoffel. We discussed issues of how to increase investment by Swiss companies into Zimbabwe; re-engagement and debt arrears clearance; and progress on economic reforms in Zimbabwe.”
In addition, the World Economic Forum gives Zimbabwe the golden opportunity to interact and engage with many leaders of different countries across of the world, unlike the UK-Africa Summit, in which the United Kingdom failed to invite its significant trading partners, including Zimbabwe and Namibia. Surprising to note was that out of 54 African countries, only 21 were invited. And, of the 21 invited, only 15 Heads of State attended the summit. Such a poor attendance leaves a lot to be desired. Thus, there has been lack of consistency in the UK’s approach. If UK was committed to the entire African continent, the number of attendees at its summit could have been up above 15.
Zimbabwe has various investment opportunities where investors can come and invest. For instance, investors interested in the mining industry can be involved in the mining of vast mineral resources such as gold, platinum, lithium among others.
Also, under agricultural sector, investors can promote in the growing and marketing of cotton, as well as investing in the farming of the golden leaf, tobacco.
Adding on to that, investors can also do businesses under the tourism sector. The tourism sector has strong links to economic growth. The tourism industry has been increasingly valued for its contribution to economic growth, employment, poverty reduction and earning of exports revenues. Zimbabwe has various tourist attraction centres which investors can be interested in, for instance, the Victoria Falls, Chinhoyi caves, Mana pools and Lake Kariba.
Apart from the WEF, Zimbabwe can also engage with other countries in the continent in promoting trade and investments. Recently, ZimTrade, a national trade development and promotion organisation launched the Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference. The first Conference will be held in March, in Kigali and it will be a platform to open up investment opportunities between the two nations as they build a conducive business environment as well as strengthening trading relations.
Zimbabwe has the greatest potential of exporting pharmaceutical products, dried fish, bars and rods of iron or non-alloy steel, manufactured tobacco and wooden furniture to Rwanda. Reports have it that Rwanda sustained high economic growth of over 8% since 2017.