Zimbabwe is 'the best investment opportunity in Africa' say financiers
JOHANNESBURG – Inflation is somewhere in the millions – or perhaps the billions – and the economy is the fastest shrinking on Earth. But Zimbabwe is the "best investment opportunity" in Africa, financiers at a seminar in South Africa have heard.
In the surreal atmosphere of President Robert Mugabe’s domain, this proposition may have a certain logic.
Throughout the economic meltdown, Zimbabwe’s stock market has soared because hyperinflation means that people must pour their money into shares to preserve its value.
On Monday, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) industrials index rose by over 241 per cent. During the investment seminar, a live feed of ZSE prices showed many stocks going up by several hundred per cent, with the leader, Zimnat, up 1,150 per cent in a day. There were no fallers.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Dollar plummeted, falling to 306.8 million against its US counterpart in the course of a morning.
But Sean Gammon, managing director of Imara Capital Zimbabwe, believes there will be immense investment potential when Zimbabwe experiences political change and currency reforms.
When outside aid begins to flow and hyperinflation is tamed, the Zimbabwe Dollar will appreciate rapidly. "It’s the best opportunity in Africa at the moment. It’s risk and reward but the potential upsides are great," he said.
His firm has sent between $250 and $300 million of foreign investment into Zimbabwe in the last three years, he said. But the flow has decreased in recent months as the regime tries to lock funds inside Zimbabwe by making it more difficult to transfer foreign currency out again.
For some would-be buyers, the potential is huge. Khati Mokhobo, the director of new business development for Sun International, a hotel chain, said he was looking to spend $100 million to buy and refurbish a property in Victoria Falls.
"It was once quite popular with foreign tourists. If the political situation is resolved it could be restored to its former glory. We would consider moving in before the political situation is resolved if you could find the right property. The better option would be buy now and hold, take a view on the future and wait for things to change," he said.