AN advance team for Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, landed in Harare yesterday on a 10-day scouting mission for fresh business opportunities in the coal and power generation sectors, after initial attempts were blocked during former President Robert Mugabe’s reign nearly three years ago.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Led by its geologist, Naresh Kumar, the Dangote team said they were exploring opportunities in coal mining with a view to setting-up a power generation plant.
Kumar said they were looking at investing over a billion dollars, adding Dangote would visit Zimbabwe in the next few weeks to seal the business deals.
“We are targeting coal mining, but for now we are here to look for the mines and see how many we can get,” Kumar said.
Dangote was in Zimbabwe in 2015 after being lured by businesswoman, Josey Mahachi, but the billionaire failed to invest even a cent due to allegations of bribe demands by Mugabe’s Cabinet ministers.
The technical team was met at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Buy Zimbabwe chairman Anxious Masuka as well as chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Hwengwere who said they would fully support the Dangote group’s renewed bid to invest in Zimbabwe.
“We hope this time around things won’t go off the rail, we hope that our government officials will not employ bureaucratic tendencies that would jeopardise this kind of investment,” Masuka said.
In 2015, Dangote made headlines when he visited the country to scout for possible investment. He has interests in cement manufacturing, energy, mining and agriculture.
He met Mugabe at State House and his team made numerous trips from Nigeria to Zimbabwe — all in vain.
Mahachi said she hoped President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration would expedite the Dangote group investment endeavours in Zimbabwe.
“We are looking at an investment opportunity of close to $1,5 billion,” she said.