Zim needs policy certainty: US

HARARE - Zimbabwe must set predictable policies and respect property rights for it to benefit from the growing Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa, United States envoy Bruce Wharton said.

He said while the southern African nation was progressing in the ICT sector, the country needs to set investor friendly policies to attract more players.

“The essential basis for a growing economy is confidence. Investors need to be sure that government policies will be predictable and implemented consistently. There is currently the fear that the country does not respect private property,” he told a business conference recently.

Wharton added that “investors need assurance that private property and intellectual property will be protected… (and) confidence that courts will treat all people fairly in accordance with the law”.

He said the unpredictability of Zimbabwe’s laws is the major obstacle to attracting investors.

“Without confidence in these and other government processes, domestic and foreign businesses are reluctant to invest,” he said, adding that Zimbabwe could venture into ICT projects to curb the economic down turn.

The country’s uncertain policy environment was recently cited as a hindrance to investment by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in a report it released last week.

In its Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-2015, the global think-tank expressed concern over the country’s policy environment arguing it needed urgent attention.

This comes as the investment-starved country is desperately trying to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and access international lines of credit.

But investors and financiers are wary of its policies, particularly the indigenisation law — compelling foreigners to cede majority shareholding to black locals.

The World Bank has said that five years of investor friendly policies in the mining sector alone could increase annual output by $5 billion.

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