THE Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG), which was recently awarded the US$400 million National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) recapitalisation tender, has come up with a global investment scheme to enable Zimbabweans living outside the country to invest in various critical infrastructure.
The company’s executive chair Donovan Chimhandamba this week said his company is in the final stages of appointing advisors who will roll out the investment scheme. He said the advisors will include an independent international law firm, bankers, as well as corporate finance advisors.
DIDG is a company formed by Zimbabweans in the diaspora, mainly in South Africa.
Chimhandamba said target sectors for his company, as well as the investment scheme include transport, power, financial services, energy, water, mining and mineral beneficiation and information communication technology.
“The company is broadening the diaspora participation in Zimbabwe’s critical infrastructure development programme. We are advanced with plans to launch a global Zimbabwean Diaspora Investment Scheme. Our plans are informed and guided by the Zimbabwe Diaspora Policy. We are in the process of finalising the appointment of an independent international law firm and bank, investment bankers and corporate finance advisors,” said the Johannesburg based Chimhandamba.
“These advisors will drive the process of rolling out a DIDG ring-fenced investment scheme for Zimbabweans living in countries such as United Kingdom, United States of America, Australia and South Africa. This was part of our plan from inception to ensure every Zimbabwean in the diaspora is able to participate in Zimbabwe’s re-industrialisation projects.”
He said diasporans are keen to invest in Zimbabwe but need a platform and structure that allows them to easily participate while having the confidence that such an initiative is well managed and will yield desired results.
Chimhandamba added: “In 2015, Zimbabwean diaspora remittances were about US$939 million while remittances by international Non-Governmental Organisations to Zimbabwe were US$978 million.
The diaspora remittances are too significant to be ignored, considering that they represent 25% of Zimbabwes gross domestic product. Though these numbers might sound big, imagine the potential to increase diaspora remittances if you consider that only 2% of Zimbabwean diaspora use formal channels of remitting cash to Zimbabwe, while South African diaspora contributes 34% of the total diaspora remittances.”
He said Zimbabwe needs an organised and aggregated diaspora as opposed to sporadic investments or partnerships with a few select individual Zimbabweans abroad.
“Our vision through the investment scheme is to see the diaspora group attract participation hence we are looking at international law firms and banks who can assist in providing the instruments in these jurisdictions,” Chimhandamba added.
He also said the company’s strategic intent is that the investment scheme will ultimately be investing in Zimbabwe’s infrastructure while being managed independently by the international firms.
“Being in the diaspora with deep roots in the international financial and technical networks, it is natural for these organisations to feel comfortable working with us when going into Zimbabwe and that is a virtue we are leveraging. Lastly, diasporans have gained skills that other countries have relied on to industrialise their countries. With this initiative we will repatriate these critical skills to develop our country,” said Chimhandamba.
Regarding the NRZ project, he said his company is waiting for final cabinet approval in order to then negotiate contract terms and start working.