Zim must open up — Dangote

HARARE - Billionaire and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, says Zimbabwe must open up to foreign investment by relaxing its stringent visa conditions and improve on the ease of doing business.

Dangote — with a net worth of $17,2 billion according to Forbes Magazine — told Tourism minister Walter Mzembi on Monday that his visit to Zimbabwe was only made possible by the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“My last call to... Mzembi is that he works at investing in an open airs system so that investors can enter into the country freely,” he said.

Mzembi concurred with Dangote and said there was need for the country to adopt an open-boarders policy aimed at embracing investors from emerging economies such as Angola, Nigeria, Egypt, India and South Africa.

“Nigeria is in category C and its citizens are required to apply for visas in their country before they come here. This means we are keeping at bay more than

17 000 millionaires in Nigeria who are willing to invest here with our visa conditions,” he said.

Information gathered by businessdaily in the past four weeks indicates that while Zimbabwe is reviewing its visa regime, only a few and little-known countries such as French Polynesia and Estonia would be upgraded to category B — which does not require visas — while economic powerhouses such as India and Nigeria are excluded.

Dangote, who met President Robert Mugabe and several government ministers during his visit to Zimbabwe, expressed interest to invest in the country that has been in economic decline for more than a decade.

“We had a very, very good meeting with the president and I told him that we... decided to invest in three areas, one is power, second one is cement and third one is coal,” he said.

“...so we are here and we will invest,” he said.

The Nigerian billionaire, who is likely to spend close to $400 million on the cement plant — to produce a million-and-a-half tonnes of cement a year, making it the biggest in the country — also raised a red flag over Zimbabwe’s ease of doing business environment.

“You know, there are so many permits and whatever, but the government promised to accelerate the process — and as soon as we get things right, we will move,” he said.

Dangote, whose investment group last month opened a cement plant in Ndola, Zambia to add to his other plants in South Africa, Senegal, Ethiopia, Congo Republic, Gabon and Tanzania, could not divulge when his planned investments in Zimbabwe could take off due to the country’s bureaucracy and red-tape.

“The time frame for the investment is dependent on getting all the documentation, for instance the mining licences, but if we get everything this year, we will start construction by the first quarter next year. We will move very fast, but that all depends on the government,” he said.

Dangote’s call comes at a time when Zimbabwe is under pressure to aggressively improve the overall business environment and investment climate to attract meaningful levels of investment.

Zimbabwe is 171 out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s 2014 ease of doing business index, a situation attributed to negative perceptions of the country’s policies such as its land redistribution drive as well as the current crusade to localise control of all foreign-owned enterprises.

Economic analysts have also singled out policy inconsistencies as one of the reasons behind low foreign direct investment inflows into the country.

Comments (9)

It won`t happen unless he produces my brown envelop!!!!

Tsholofelo - 2 September 2015

FDI is one of the reason why SA and other countries are doing well, but Zimbabwe. due to fear in Mugabe and wanting to be the only one eyed man among the blind he close all potential investors. In his mind when people are economically empowered they will rise against him. Contrary to the obvious, when people are satisfied they are too busy enriching themselves and pay less to political issue. In South Africa, Botswana and even Namibia, you can ask a person who is the president or political party in power, they do not know because they are busy economically. This cause also is what led to deprivation of Matebeleland. He felt that if Bulawayo remains as the industrial hub of Zimbabwe and South Africa, it would be difficult to control them. Now ZANU PF looses every election in Matebeleland. The same goes with the fight against white farmers, when MDC was established, Mugabe and ZANU PF felt that MDC is being sponsored by the white farmers, and they will topple him. To deal with both MDC and white farmers Mugabe sanctioned land reform, and that impoverished the whole country. See the poverty he has caused on to every one, the country is perennial importer of food. Mugabe felt that urban people will topple his government if they stay in town, and he instituted Murambastvina, it drove and render more than 700000 people homeless. If Dongate want to invest for real, he must invest in the back yard of Mugabe's house in Kutama, yet he could be considered to be financing towards regime change. Thus how much scared Mugabe fears economically powerful people. Military people used to be professional, no political involvement, he impoverished them and then now they literally worship him getting mineral right and un warranted salaries for a song.

aminab - 3 September 2015

Strive Masiyiwa is far much better than Dangote of Nigeria. Dangote got his money from selling salt, rice etc. We all know how Masiyiwa started. Lets give Econet a chance to transform the economy of Zimbabwe instead of inviting Nigerians who do not have the technical expertise.

Simon Dare - 3 September 2015

You are right Simon. Econet is the company which can transform Zimbabwe. The problem is that the government of Zimbabwe has deep hatred of Econet, preferring foreigners who pay bribes. Econet has gone global while TelOne and NetOne are struggling inside Zim.

George Ngwere - 3 September 2015

Countrymen we just want investors irrespective of who the investor is.Yes Strive Masiyiwa is a fine businessman of class and the government ought to create a mechanism of working hand in hand first and foremost with its own progressive nationals before it thinks of engaging foreigners.Sure if the government is serious there are many to learn and take advantage from our business community

carson macate - 3 September 2015

Who will buy Nigerian cement. Their buildings are collapsing everyday. I will not be cheated.

Daniel churu - 4 September 2015

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