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Zimbabwe on charm offensive UK investment drive

by Staff reporter
23 Apr 2023 at 08:01hrs | Views
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is on a charm offensive in the United Kingdom as his country wades out of international isolation to attract investors and kickstart the ailing economy.

Ncube and a high-powered delegation that includes government officials and business executives arrived in London on Thursday for a two-day investor conference where he was the keynote speaker.

The Zimbabwe Capital Markets Conference, organised jointly by the Johannesburg-based Financial Markets Indaba, the Zimbabwean government and financial intermediary Bard Santner Markets Inc, was held at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

Bard Santner is a financial intermediary specialising in asset management, corporate finance and wealth management, and a key player in the Zimbabwean financial sector.

The first session on Thursday was held at the LSE and drew executives that included Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe financial markets director Azvinandawa Sabuir; Ncube; Victoria Falls Stock Exchange chief executive Justin Bgoni; Securities and Exchange Commission of Zimbabwe CEO Anymore Taruvinga and Tom Attenborough, head of international business development within primary markets at the LSE group; Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency chief executive Tafadzwa Chinhamo and Zimbabwe's ambassador the UK, Christian Katsande.

The second session on Friday was held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and Ncube was the keynote speaker.

The conference, among other things explored investment opportunities in Zimbabwe, but also sought to address the thorny legislative and regulatory changes causing bottlenecks and shutting out potential investors.

It also sought to develop of a broad investor base and for government to reach out to the "diaspora by infusing confidence in investment markets in Zimbabwe", according to the organizers.

The move is a practical effort by the country to kickstart the ailing economy and sell the "Zimbabwe open for business" message on a global platform in London.

The first of its kind involving both government and the private sector, the conference comes as Zimbabwe battles economic sanctions and restrictions imposed by global institutions such as the European Union.

London will host the UK-African Investment Summit in April 2024 and Zimbabwe, after testing the waters this week, may participate, in a clear move to end its isolation from global financial markets.

The next leg of the conference is mooted for Johannesburg later in the year.

South Africa is Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner in the region, with SA exports exceeding US$3.22bn in 2022, according to the UN Comtrade database, the largest depository of international trade data.

Dozens of South African companies operate in Zimbabwe across agriculture, mining, retail, broadcasting and construction.

Bard Santner Markets Inc CEO Senziwani Sikhosana, who is in London as part of the delegation, explained the rationale of hosting the conference in Britain.

"The true story needs to be told about the potential of the country, and as Zimbabweans we can tell our story.

"Politics aside, there is a story to be told. We said as business, let's come to the centre of world capital, which is London, and have a discussion about Zimbabwe's potential as an investment destination.

"We have manufacturing, tourism and mining sectors. And Zimbabwe has one of the world's largest lithium reserves. We also have platinum, and the whole world is looking for those minerals."

He dismissed concerns about investing in a country whose monetary systems are chaotic, saying the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange was US dollar-based and investors can come there.

"We are marketing that stock exchange and the country as a whole. We are saying to the capital world: ‘Come in, let's discuss'."

Source - iol