Philips to reinvest in Zim

HARARE - Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics (Philips) plans to reinvest in Zimbabwe, more than a decade after it left the country.

Juan Van Dongen, general manager of the company’s Africa division, said they had a multi-year investment plan to significantly increase Philips’ footprint on the continent in the coming years.

“We’ve had approval for a very aggressive growth strategy for Africa,” he said after meeting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday.

“We want to invest our products in Zimbabwe and help the people to have better healthcare facilities using the latest technology,” Van Dongen added.

With Philips operating in Africa for over a century, the expansion drive would be hinged on innovative products which address the needs of Africa’s growing population.

Dongen said Philips was ready to help Zimbabwe regain its position, particularly in the health sector.
“When we engage in new projects here in Zimbabwe, it’s quite obvious this will result in investments and contribute to local employment,” he said.

In poor African countries, there is growing demand for world-leading healthcare technology such as magnetic resonance imaging technology and Cat scanners.

“You are seeing first world healthcare with high-end diagnosis being available for the general population.”

Andre Dehmel, Lighting Africa’s general manager, added that “We are aiming to gain a strong presence in this continent by building on local talent and organisations, setting up distribution and routes to markets and, above all, by developing solutions and innovations which are relevant to local needs,” said Dehmel.

Alex Magaisa, secretary for Transitional Affairs in the Prime Minister’s office, said the consultation in Harare was a follow-up to a previous meeting Philips had with Tsvangirai more than two weeks ago in Davos, Switzerland.

“The Prime Minister has been meeting with several business people around the world,” he said, adding that the meeting with Philips staff was an indication of growing investor confidence in Zimbabwe.

The country has suffered serious losses in foreign direct investment over the past few years, but following the formation of a unity government by long-time rivals President Robert Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

“The move by Philips to re-engage with Zimbabwe is a positive political trajectory and this can only be good for business,” Magaisa said.

Philips employs approximately 116 000 workers in more than 60 countries worldwide.

With sales averaging $26,95 billion, the company is a market leader in healthcare systems, lighting solutions as well as lifestyle products. - John Kachembere

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