Mauritius firms keen on Zim projects

TWO MAURITIAN companies in the chemical processing, solar technology and construction industries have expressed interest in investing in Zimbabwe as part of efforts to expand their operations.

Fidelity Mhlanga/ Elizabeth Dumbreni

Solar power generation and chemical manufacturing company, Prochem manager Patrick Koo said his company is looking for an opportunity to tap into the potential growth of the Zimbabwean economy.

“Zimbabwe is a rich solar hub, but has a huge power deficit,” Koo said.

He said his company, with an annual turnover of US$300 million, has the financial strength to alleviate the problem of the continued power supply deficit through harnessing solar power and generating solar energy.

“We are looking for an opportunity to invest in Zimbabwe and seeking partnerships. Definitely if there is an opportunity, we can come to Zimbabwe,” he said.

“By using solar energy this can help continuous power supply. We are in Africa to promote engineering support. This is what we promote. We are interested in investing in power energy,” said Koo.

On the chemical processing division, Koo said his company was keen to invest up to US$10 million in the country through setting up a chemical manufacturing plant as well as a distribution centre.
He said Prochem needs up to two years to put up a chemical manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe.

The chemical division will be responsible for manufacturing, cleaning, household, textile, enzyme, water treatment and animal health nutrition chemicals.

Mauritian firm AZ Buildersware and Marketing Ltd manager Nichal Panchoo also said his company is in talks with five potential partners to set up operations in Zimbabwe. He said negotiations should be completed within the next six months.

“We have begun negotiations with the Zimbabwean government to get land to start a manufacturing factory so that we can put up a manufacturing factory.

We have appointments to meet local partners.We will be talking about putting up a plant here,” said Panchoo.

Once approved the project is envisaged to create 200 jobs.

Enterprise Mauritius chairman Amedee Darga on Monday said three companies from Mauritius have concluded business contracts worth US$2,4 million with local companies in the textile and clothing and chemicals sector.

Mauritius’ annual exports to Zimbabwe have dwindled from the peak of US$8 million in the 90s to only US$750 000 last year. In the first quarter of 2014 Mauritius’ annual exports to Zimbabwe stood at US$270 000.

The Mauritian economy relies on sugar, tourism, textiles, financial services and is expanding into fish processing, information and communications technology as well as property development. Sugarcane accounts for 15% of its export earnings.

Mauritius has achieved steady and strong growth over the last several decades, resulting in more equitable income distribution, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, and a much-improved infrastructure.

It has attracted more than 32 000 offshore entities, many aimed at commerce in India, South Africa and China. Investment in the banking sector alone has reached over US$1 billion.

Zimbabwean businessman Tawanda Nyambira’s Lifestyle Holdings, a diversified conglomerate, de-listed from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to seek shelter in Mauritius, after which Lifestyle Holdings became a subsidiary of Lifestyle Holdings Mauritius.

The move to go offshore was meant to capitalise local operations and be able to extend credit to the Zimbabwean market.

In 2010 Essar Africa Holdings Ltd of Mauritius which was a subsidiary of Indian firm Essar Global, agreed to buy 54% in Ziscosteel in a deal worth $750 million, which would include guaranteeing debt payment and providing fresh working capital for steel operations.

But the reopening of the steelmaker, now called NewZim Steel, was held up by political squabbles between the government and partners over the ownership of mineral claims.

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