Leading Japanese industrial colossuses are in the country on a “seeing is believing” mission, to decide whether to expand their footprint to Zimbabwe — a country widely regarded as a one of the world’s least safe investment destinations.
The business delegation comprises 18 Japanese companies with international operations, among them, Mitsubishi Corporation, Mitsubishi heavy industries, Marubeni Corporation and Japan Oil Gas Metals National Corporation.
The delegation met various government ministries and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe’s largest industry representative body on Monday and disclosed that firms from the world’s second- largest economy had vast business interests in the country, but were deterred by political risk.
“Zimbabwe is under transformation and we are here to see if the transformation is going on well,” said Hiroyuki Tarumi, vice-president of Mitsubishi Corporation.
“We have to feel the environment as it is our investment. Seeing is believing.”
Technically, Zimbabwe is rated top in terms of investment opportunities, but is lumped with dregs of the world in terms of competitiveness and country risk.
Early this month, the World Bank dropped the country one place down to 157 out of 183 economics in the 2011 Doing Business Report, confirming investor fears.
CZI past president Chris Hokonya, however, allayed these worries asserting that the country had tried to manage risk in its own way in the past 12 years.
“We experienced 12 years of recession in Zimbabwe though it was a political problem. Things are getting back to normal,” Hokonya said.
“We will not deny that there have been a lot of imbalances in this country, but we urge you to come and invest with us. A lot of improvement has been made on that legislation. Any new investments may take about 10 years to be indigenised or some may be exempted.”
Hokonya said the indigenisation law was being implemented with the aim to protect local and foreign investors with no intention to expropriate or nationalise.
“A lot of foreign investors moved out of this country leaving behind local investors on their own,” Hokonya said.
Hokonya said the country requires investors who are prepared take risk in order to maximise gain.