AFRICAN Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) has provided insurance cover on projects worth more than $200 million in Zimbabwe, as the country reaps the benefits after joining the continent’s sole multilateral investment guarantee agency last year.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
The projects covered are in financial, energy and mining sectors, Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha said on Wednesday.
Officiating at the launch of ATI in Zimbabwe, Bimha said being a member of ATI facilitates Zimbabwe’s trade with the rest of the world and attracts the much-needed foreign direct investment to drive the country’s industrialisation agenda and infrastructure development.
FDI has been giving Zimbabwe a wide berth, with inflows at $319 million last year from $421 million in 2015.
“My ministry has been receiving enquiries on how to access these ATI insurance services. It is my expectation that today stakeholders, here present, now have an appreciation on how they will benefit to access the facilities. I have noted that since Zimbabwe’s full membership to ATI in 2016, the country has already started accessing ATI services, with ATI having underwritten investments transactions for Zimbabwe, valued at more than $200 million with sectors supported being financial services and energy,” Bimha said.
Speaking at the same event, Finance and Economic Development minister Ignatius Chombo said Zimbabwe’s membership of the organisation would go a long way in mitigating the risks involved in international trade such as sovereign, political, terrorism, reinsurance and trade credit insurance.
“I foresee a marked improvement in industry capacity utilisation and production of exports, with significant increase in revenue flows and employment level,” he said.
Zimbabwe applied to join ATI in 2010 and became a member in September 2016 after paying the subscriptions in July last year.
In 2016, ATI had an exposure of $2 billion and supported $4 billion worth of transactions.
ATI chief executive officer, George Otieno commended Bimha, former Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa and central bank governor, John Mangudya for playing a pivotal role in making sure the country joined the 16-year-old agency.
ATI provides investment insurance (political risk insurance) to lenders and investors, provides credit insurance and surety bonds to commercial banks and private sector traders of goods and services.
It also attracts provision of similar insurance by other investment and credit insurers, as well as facilitate partnerships between African countries, lenders, investors, traders and insurers.
ATI expanded its mandate to include helping governments to increase trade between African countries and outside the continent with trade credit insurance products.
ATI has 13-member countries — Benin, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.