Zim seeks infrastructure funds

HARARE - Zimbabwe is seeking financial assistance from the PTA Bank to help spearhead infrastructure development in the country.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week pleaded with the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank to release more money into infrastructure development in the investment-starved country.

“My challenge is to address the infrastructural gaps that exist in our infrastructural framework, which include power deficit, water reticulation challenges, railways, roads and ICT,” Chinamasa told PTA Bank officials at the inauguration of the financial institution’s Harare Regional Office.

“You were telling me about the $10 million fibre optic that you put in Burundi. I would love to have that kind of support,” said Chinamasa.

This comes after PTA Bank has extended $500 million in loans to Zimbabwe over the last 15 years and plans to increase its exposure in the region.

The minister said although he appreciated the all-sector approach PTA Bank had adopted, infrastructure in the country needed immediate attention.

“The bank’s investment cuts across all sectors of the economy, agribusiness, manufacturing, health, education, mining, ICT, financial services and hospitality.

“While all these areas are relevant, infrastructure needs an immediate solution if development is to happen in the country,” he said.

Before the advent of the chaotic land reform programme in the year 2000 aimed at addressing the land imbalance, Zimbabwe was renowned for a well-knit and well-maintained infrastructure, which was the envy of many and was a major draw-card in attracting investors.

The infrastructure not only played a pivotal role in supporting the country’s economic growth, but also that of the entire southern Africa region because of the country’s geographical position.

However, lack of foreign direct investment and poor government policies have seen most of the infrastructure in the southern African country deteriorating.

In April this year, Amarakoon Bandara of United Nations Development Programme said Zimbabwe requires $18 billion to rehabilitate its run-down infrastructure and attract more foreign direct investment.

“If basic internal infrastructure needs cannot be met, even generous fiscal incentives will not be enough to attract and retain investors in the zones,” said Bandara.

Last week, South African Development Finance Institutions were in the country to scout for infrastructure investment deals.

The interested institutions are the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Transnet and the Public Investment Corporation (IPC).

President Robert Mugabe also signed several infrastructure investment deals in China, at a recent visit to the Asian economic giant.

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