By Vongai Mbara
ZIMBABWE has been ranked by Global Edge as one of the top three African countries that offer the best Return on Investment (ROI). It was ranked after Nigeria and Kenya in a survey which was conducted with the aim of establishing the African country that would offer the best economic outlook for the next three years.
To add on, Zimbabwe is a signatory of several bi-lateral and international agreements (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) which protects the investments of the companies in Zimbabwe.
Almost all sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy need immediate investment. For instance, sectors such as agro-processing and agro-forestry, manufacturing (textiles, clothing and footwear, chemicals and technology), tourism, services (construction, infrastructure and transport), mining and ICT present a host of investment opportunities.
Zimbabwe’s location in the Southern Africa Development Committee (SADC) makes it the center in the region which allows the country to provide getaways to other countries. The transport networks which includes road, rail and air has a lot of investment opportunities in recovering and maintaining old roads, building bridges, developing corridors and introducing new technologies and efficient management to match other competitors.
Agriculture and Agro-Processing
Zimbabwe has a rich history in agriculture, especially in crop production and animal husbandry. The country was once regarded as the breadbasket of Africa. Zimbabwe is an agriculture-based economy with opportunities for investment in value addition, meat processing, fruit juices, horticulture and floriculture, sugar milling and timber processing. Besides having vast amount of affordable land, the country also offers one of the best agricultural climates in the region, and has 86% of all the region’s small water bodies according to the United Nations.
Zimbabwe’s mining sector provides a unique investment opportunity as the country emerges from three decades of under investment in both exploration and mining development. You cannot ignore the prospects of gold and coal in Zimbabwe and the large reserve of platinum and diamond that the country has. There are investment opportunities in prospecting and mining of various minerals like gold, coal, diamond, granite and platinum, cutting and polishing of diamonds, quarrying and mineral exploration. Moreover, other investment opportunities in the sector lie on machinery funding, long term capital investment, gold buying agents and training Opportunities.
Zimbabwe is currently facing energy problems. This is highly substantiated by the frequent load shedding, a challenge also currently faced by Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana etc. These challenges create opportunities around innovative and alternative energy sources. There is also a demand to extend of power stations, areas entrepreneurial Zimbabweans can tap into.
Media in Zimbabwe is rapidly growing; with many private owned radio stations and soon television channels being introduced, there are a lot of investment opportunities for anyone who has a vision to take it even further. The key investment opportunities in media lie in digitalisation which will allow Outside Broadcasting Units and Satellite Uplinks. There are investment opportunities in digital media, specially e-commerce, news blogs, classifieds and payment gateways as a lot more people are mobile and smartphone penetration is at its highest in Zimbabwe.
Mobile Banking and Payments
Zimbabwe has a huge Feature phone and Smartphone user base that could easily be tapped into. Eco-cash is a reflection of how mobile banking can be turned into a lucrative business. According to Cassava 2020 report, the mobile banking solution has seen over ZWL$93 billion worth of transactions since its inception in 2011. There are also opportunities to integrate mobile banking solutions into retail, transport, health etc
The manufacturing sector is in its nascent stage with few exploited areas whereby unprocessed agricultural commodities have dominated major exports and Zimbabwe wants to change this trend by encouraging investment in textiles, leather and food processing. There are also opportunities to manufacture equipment used in all the different sectors like chemicals for agriculture, finishing textures and knitting products for clothing, wood and furniture saw milling, consumer electronics and communication equipment.
Tourism sector has a lot of investment opportunities because of the links it has to other sectors. There are investment opportunities in building accommodation in places like Kariba, Hwange National Park, Matopo Hills, Victoria Falls etc. The sector contributes a lot to foreign currency earnings, employment and allows joint venture investment opportunities.
Real Estate Sector
It is noted that Zimbabwe as a country still lags behind in terms of top of the range shopping malls and leisure centres. The shopping complexes that are available are small, poorly located and do not encompass a wide variety of mega-shops, mega-wholesalers, theme park, leisure centres, and above all proximity to fantastic as well as historical sites. In addition, Zimbabwe has a huge population in the diaspora that is keen on investing in property back home but the challenges most face are the exorbitant pricing and absence of credible and reliable real estate companies that also offer house bonds which can be paid off at a monthly fee over a 10-20 year period from the diaspora. The construction of low to medium income housing projects in Zimbabwe is an area with vast potential.