ZIMBABWE needs to focus more on local infrastructure investments and industrialisation in order to woo investors and boost the crumbling economy, a top government official has said.
By Cloudine Matola
Ministry of Information permanent secretary Nick Mangwana told delegates at the Institute of Chartered Accountants summer school in Harare last Friday that Zimbabwe needs to invest in infrastructural projects to attract investors.
“Mr Chikohora mentioned the issues of infrastructure, you cannot attract anyone to come to a place where there is no penetration, communication systems, water system, electricity, bridges, roads, etc; you can’t attract anybody,” he said.
“The fundamental issue the government should do is to invest in that infrastructure to ensure that it is there. You can’t attract your children to come back from the diaspora to come and live in your house because there is no electricity, let alone a foreigner.”
He also said the government is now working on improving the infrastructure in the country in order to ensure the fundamentals are in place.
“If the government is not investing in electricity — power generation — then we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. But if there is a government which is talking of generating over 2 000 megawatts from Batoka and is investing in that, and is talking of turbines, then we are talking. If you go there, there is construction going on,” Mangwana said.
Kingdom Bank founder and entrepreneur Nigel Chanakira told delegates at the same event that Zimbabwe should take advantage of the strong demand for new business sectors such as medicinal cannabis, whose market is seen reaching US$57 billion by 2027.
“Spending on legal cannabis worldwide is expected to hit US$57 billion by 2027. The recreational market will cover 67% of the spending; medical cannabis will take up the remaining 33%. We should focus on the medicinal cannabis and take advantage of our skills base because this is well within our reach based on the information at hand. Let’s focus and jump into this bandwagon, for example medicinal cannabis. It’s a US$57 billion industry. Lesotho is faster, South Africa faster than we are,” Chanakira said. “Let’s talk about rural small-medium enterprise industrialisation and again we are at the table talking about small-medium contributions in terms of areas like food processing, exporting dry foods, pharmaceutical produce that can come from organic material.”
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC Alliance) secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said the current laws in the country repel investment and they should be repealed.
“We must repeal all laws that repel investment and we must repeal them as a matter of yesterday and this must be treated with agency by the government. These laws include the indigenisation, but it then has to be replaced by better laws. We then go to the issue of respect for the law. There is a correlation between respect of the law, rule of law and development,” Mwonzora said.
Zimbabwe is lagging behind compared to its regional peers like South Africa and Botswana, where infrastructural development has been a key driver of economic development.