Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter—
Zimbabwe received $1 billion investment applications last year, with over half the value translated into real investment, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority said. The investment projects proposals for last year reflect a 60 percent growth on the previous year when $400 million applications were submitted with a similar value realised. But the country’s premier investment authority said that the expressions of interest in 2014 fall far short of the actual investment required to revitalise the economy.
ZIA chairman Mr Nigel Chanakira said in an interview that the level of actual and proposed investment in 2014 indicated the need to double the efforts.
“Our applications totalled $1 billion in 2014. For a start, we are still nowhere near the $5,6 billion we require every year in terms of foreign direct investment,” he said.
Zimbabwe requires massive foreign investment to reinvigorate growth after almost half its Gross Domestic Product dissipated due to hyperinflation in the decade to 2008.
Mr Chanakira, however, pointed out that while the country craved for marked growth in investment, concerns lingered about the availability and level of power supply.
It is against this background that Mr Chanakira said efforts will this year be directed at also shoring up investment in infrastructural projects, including energy.
Government has already signed mega deals in various sectors of the economy that include mining and energy, which are expected to drive economic growth.
“We are also working concretely on the doing business report. We have cleared the start a business period, by compressing the (approval) period and reducing the cost.
“Hopefully, when the new report is out in September, we would have moved a couple of places. We have already started working on the others.
“On Zimra, we corrected the World Bank index, which was not measuring Zimra’s collection mechanism because we are ahead of where they think we are,” he said.
Mr Chanakira said correction of the anomaly regarding Zimra would again, hopefully, result in Zimbabwe moving up the World Bank ease of doing business rankings.
The ZIA chairman said that the investment authority would focus on reforms around minority investor protection laws, as it seeks to attract more FDI.
A team from the Ministry of Justice will also visit New Zealand to look at how they handle issues of judicial management and liquidations as well as laws around that.
Government is also working on fast tracking Special Economic Zones, which will further spruce up the country’s attractiveness as a destination for foreign investment.
As part of a group of inland countries lobbying against aspects of measurement of cross- border trading, Zimbabwe hopes its rankings in this area will also move up.
“Hopefully, that rebalancing of the weighting will actually work in Zimbabwe’s favour so that we achieve our objective (to enter the top 100 in three years),” he said.
Last year, Zimbabwe moved seven places on the World Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum and only a single rung of World Bank’s ease of doing business.
Mr Chanakira also said that special arrangements had been put in place to make sure that new legislation with a bearing on investment is sails through in a short period.
This approach will apply particularly in regard to the National Competitiveness Bills and the Special Economic Zones Bill that have already been put in draft form.