The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) says it has poured over $4 million into Zimbabwe’s industry over the last three years, but is worried that the level of investment commitments to the country is too low relative to other economies around the region.
The intergovernmental agency, which specialises in promoting and accelerating industrial development in developing countries and those in transition, also asserted Zimbabwe can only sustain its recovery and transit to a growth phase through accelerated investments.
“It pains me whenever I look at investment patterns in Africa,” Head of Unido Operations in Zimbabwe Tichaona Mushayandebvu said during the Africa Industrialisation day celebrations jointly held with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries on Friday.
“You find that countries such as Mozambique can receive as much as $50 million in new investments every year, while Zimbabwe has zero. There is something wrong.”
This “worrying” phenomenon that Mushayandebvu would not explain has often been collapsed to one factor that besmirches Zimbabwe’s investment profile — country risk — the collective of political uncertainty, sanctions, inadequate investment protection and other legal-institutional issues.
Investment inflows have fallen from a peak of $440 million in 2001 to marginally over $10 million per year at the moment, mostly from non-traditional sources, amid escalating capital fight by those that had established local operations.
In combination, the de-industrialisation and timidity of foreign capital have slowed the pace of recovery since the country dollarised its way to stability in February last year.
Mushayandebvu said Unido has tried to bridge the gap through specialised projects and has trained local tobacco farmers “to move from old technology to new technology” jointly with the Tobacco Research Board under the Montreal Protocol.
Zimbabwe this year reported a glut in tobacco output, primed to lift global inventories of flue-cured tobacco which were seen low owing to production shocks in Brazil and other leading global producers. Over 122 million kilogrammes were delivered to local auction floors during the past marketing season.
“We have a lot of initiatives which we need to undertake,” Mushayandebvu said.
“As Unido we don’t come here to Zimbabwe with prepared programmes and initiatives. The initiatives come from government and from the private sector. It’s up to the private sector to tell government ‘These are our priorities’.”