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African-American investors eye Zimbabwe opportunities

by Staff reporter
11 Mar 2024 at 04:52hrs | Views
Zimbabwe is set to benefit from investments valued at more than US$500 million in several sectors of the economy from a group of African-American owned businesses that have set their eye on the local market.

A delegation of members of the Global Opportunity Committee of the Atlanta Black Chambers (ABC), is in the country for a week on a visit which seeks to foster trade, investment, economic and cultural exchange between Zimbabwe and the United States.

The ABC team, which is comprised of investors and experts in fields that include agriculture, real estate, manufacturing, mining and biotechnology, is part of a broader mission that includes visits to South Africa and Zambia.

Several memorandums of understanding between ABC and Zimbabwe companies and business associations, are expected to be signed during the mission.

Speaking at a press conference in Harare yesterday, chairman of the Global Opportunity Committee Mr Ricardo Berris, said their major goal was to build relationships and to do business in Zimbabwe.

"Please understand that as we meet you throughout the next few days, we want you to ensure that as we go back, we are going back with a story, with a message to tell to our members that Zimbabwe is open for business. That the new Zimbabwe is ready to receive their business. And this is something that we are just getting started with.

"It is amazing what you have here in this country and I hope you see the value in that because we also see that value and that is the big part of the reason we are here."

He said the ABC had a vision to generate US$100 billion in transactions for its members and Zimbabwean businesses could also benefit from this trade opportunity.

International trade expert Ms Shaquana Teasley, who is also part of the American delegation, said it was important for the business that would be generated during the visit to be mutually beneficial for both the American and Zimbabwean businesses.

"We can come to Zimbabwe and we can make good relationships but what we want to see is business that is successful and this happens through positive trade initiatives. It is important to have a trade expert to make sure that both parties are getting the true benefit of import and export so that we can see the growth and development for our chamber and the mutual relationships that we are building throughout Zimbabwe," she said.

Ms Teasley expressed hope that the subsequent partnerships would not be hindered by bureaucracy and red tape.

The engagements between the ABC and CEO Africa Roundtable, who are cohosting the mission with the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, was facilitated by the Zimbabwe Embassy in the US when staff visited Atlanta in May last year.

Besides putting into action President Mnangagwa's mantra that Zimbabwe is "Open for Business", the mission will also leverage on ABC's experience to change the narrative about Zimbabwe as an investment destination for American businesses.

Zimbabwean Ambassador to the US Tadeous Chifamba said this engagement was part of Government's engagement with the diaspora community initiative.

"Our message was that Zimbabwe's future is not dependent on aid but on mutually beneficial partnerships and we highlighted the many investment opportunities that Zimbabwe has to offer. Beyond our natural resources, our flora and fauna and our human capital is among the best and it is highly adaptive and efficient.

"It is important that as you are here, you begin to appreciate the difference between what you hear on cable news and the actual reality of Zimbabwe. We have been receiving very hostile press for a long time and this opportunity, I , will create a new understanding, a new perception of Zimbabwe which I hope you will be able to share with the global membership of the Chamber," he said.

CEO Africa Roundtable chairman Mr Oswel Binha said the ABC mission aligned perfectly with CEO Africa Roundtable's commitment to fostering collaboration and driving sustainable economic growth and development in Africa.

"The visit by the Atlanta Black Chambers serves as a testament to the growing interest in Zimbabwe's business landscape and the recognition of its potential as a vibrant market for international cooperation. Thus, this serves as an opportunity to improve on the current low volumes of trade in goods, which have failed to reach US$1 billion for the past 5 years, between the US and Zimbabwe," he said.

"We believe that initiatives like this play a crucial role in promoting inclusivity, diversity, and economic empowerment. By connecting African diaspora communities with their countries of origin, we can leverage their expertise, resources, and networks to drive sustainable development and create shared prosperity."

He commended Government for its role in facilitating the visit by the American mission, which he said was the beginning of a fruitful and enduring relationship between Atlanta and Zimbabwe.

The ABC delegation is also accompanied by the Investments in Manufacturing Production and Infrastructure (IMPI Inc) consortium of Zimbabwe scientists who are seeking to construct a biotechnology city in Zimbabwe

The IMPI group met President Mnangagwa on the sidelines of the 78th United National General Assembly in New York in September last year, and he assured them of full Government support.

Since then, the group has been successfully registered in Zimbabwe as IMPI Biotechnology Consortium (Pvt) Ltd and applied for an investment licence, which is currently being processed by ZIDA. They are also looking towards the finalisation of the land offer, signalling the start of the project.

IMPI Inc has also identified the nucleus companies based in the US ready to set up subsidiaries in the Biotechnology City under the first phase of the project which will have an investment of about U$100 million.

IMPI board chairman Dr Tawanda Gumbo said: "We are actually raising about US$70 million to put into that city. We would love for most of that investment to be from black people. As we learnt during the Covid-19 pandemic, those who control medications, control life, and it is a life and death situation but it is also an incredible economic opportunity and an incredible way to think of black people at large the whole world in control of one of the major sectors of wealth in the future," he said.

Source - The Herald
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