In China, investment accounts for almost 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product against an average 18 percent in Africa.

In China, investment accounts for almost 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product against an average 18 percent in Africa.

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THE Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) is finalising a study to establish the number of projects that have taken off the ground from those approved two years ago.

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This comes as investment traffic into the country continues to rise, with ZIA approving US$1,1 billion worth of projects last year.

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And given the huge investment appetite from Europe, Asia and the United States, the country is angling to attract US$2 billion worth of investment this year. While high investment figures have been flaunted every year, question marks have remained on the number of projects that are eventually implemented.

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ZIA spokesperson Mr Nickson Kanyemba told The Sunday Mail Extra that it is too early to establish the projects that have taken shape so far.

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A study to check the number of projects now operational from those approved in 2012 and 2013 is almost complete.

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Mr Kanyemba said investment is a cycle that sees an investor seeking approval then going back to look for capital before coming back to look for land and resources that are a pre-requisite for beginning operations.

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“We have conducted a study to see which of the projects approved in 2012 and 2013 are doing what and where. If a project is approved and nothing takes place for two years, we consider it to be out,” said Mr Kanyemba.

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ZIA said it was bracing for major deals spurred by interest from traditional and cash-rich investment source markets such as Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Turkey and China, with board chair Mr Nigel Chanakira saying the country had turned the corner.

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He, however, emphasised the need for the interest to translate into actual business.

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Mr Chanakira said last year’s approvals at US$1,1 billion were 66 percent up from the previous year.

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“I think from Europe the interest is there, but we want to arrive at a point where these discussions translate into inflows of funds that everyone sees in the country.

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“There is no doubt that we are now attractive. We had a very bad PR out there as people thought we do not respect property rights, but we (have) been stating our case.

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“We went to China, South Africa, London, Brussels and we have really been shouting on top of our voices telling the truth about the country,” said Mr Chanakira.

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Head of Fiscal Policy and Investment Promotion in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development Dr Desire Sibanda told the India Chamber of Commerce delegation in Harare recently that Government is impressed by the high investment traffic and is working on improving the investment climate to attract bigger investors.

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Dr Sibanda said China and India have eradicated poverty after improving their investment climate hence the “need to copy and mobilise investment for sustainable development”.

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In China, investment accounts for almost 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product against an average 18 percent in Africa. Dr Sibanda added that as part of improving the investment climate, Government is also dealing with synergies between investment promotion and indigenisation to enable ministries to speak with one voice during domestic and international conferences.

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“Most people have come to perceive this as the single biggest problem affecting the flow of investment into the country. Steps are being taken to synergise investment promotion and indigenisation and empowerment.

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“This will promote joint ventures and partnerships between foreigners and locals,” he said.

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Dr Sibanda added that Government is working on steps to strengthen the ZIA board so that it is visible to “effectively promote joint ventures and give reports of joint ventures secured and the economic in terms of capital injections, employment, revenues and technology received, among others”.

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Dr Sibanda said through Zim-Asset, Government is placing emphasis on beneficiation and value addition to ensure the country does not lose by exporting raw materials and importing finished products.

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Meanwhile, the investment promotion body, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has also launched an initiative in which the country’s trade attaches go to ZIA for investment orientation before being posted abroad.

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“We no longer want them to just go and talk politics out there. Trade attaches must promote trade and investment wherever they are. That way they become our ambassadors in the true sense,” explained Mr Chanakira.

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ZIA is also targeting foreign ambassadors in Zimbabwe, where it is clarifying the country’s investment policies.

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“But what is exciting us is the traffic and the signing of concrete deals, so, I think we are getting there but I will say we are getting there when we are getting something like US$2 billion to US$6 billion per year in actual flows; we will know we are competing.

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“Those figures are reachable because of the opportunities that are there, particularly with the Zim-Asset document, and that each ministry is doing the processing of its own things in terms of the Indigenisation Act,” added Mr Chanakira.

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With Government recently announcing that line ministries will now approve indigenisation and compliance applications, it is hoped that deals will be expeditiously processed.

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ZIA and the Office of the President and Cabinet have given an assurance that the costs and delays in doing business in Zimbabwe will be cut in four months’ time.

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Added Mr Chanakira: “First, we looked at (global doing business) rankings in November and said we can improve our ranking from where we are. Then we asked ourselves why we are ranked like we are and we saw our problems in registration processes; so that is being addressed.

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“We also decided that we want to centralise, for instance, say, NSSA, Zimdef registration and so forth.

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“The City of Harare was not computerised then we offered to put their forms online so that they are not sold as that tended to push up costs. So, we are reforming that entire process and stakeholders are committed to a four-month period within which we will reduce that entire process.”

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ZIA has cut the time of processing applications from 59 days a few years ago to five days last year and is targeting a further reduction to two days.

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The World Bank 2015 Doing Business Report ranked Zimbabwe 171 out of 189 economies, one place down from last year.

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Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency, released on Monday, placed Zimbabwe ahead of Liberia, Angola, the DRC, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Libya and Eritrea.

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The report looks at regulations, electricity access, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.

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