Last month Zimbabwe received a Swedish delegation consisting of various companies led by the Swedish-Southern Africa chamber of commerce (SSACC). The meeting was also organised by Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce. NewsDay Business Reporter Fidelity Mhlanga (ND) interviewed Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sofia Calltorp (SC) to get insights about Investment between Zimbabwe and Sweden. Below are the excerpt:
By Fidelity Mhlanga
ND: May you tell us briefly about the Swedish companies that visited Zimbabwe last week?
SC: The delegation was led by the Swedish-Southern Africa chamber of commerce (SSACC). The other companies represented include:
Confidere — offers project management services for operations and projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Swedfund — Development finance institution of the Swedish state. Swedfund offers risk capital and support for business establishment in growth markets, in order to contribute to economic growth, tax income and job opportunities. Their goal is to eliminate poverty by creating sustainable business in some of the world’s most promising growth markets.
Okapi Finance International Financial institution with a special focus on providing financial inclusion and increasing accessibility of financial services by targeting the unbanked. It already has operations in several African countries.
Voith Hydro — the company is one of the major suppliers of hydropower equipment in Sweden — as well as worldwide. Voith Hydro has long-term, comprehensive expertise particularly in the manufacturing of new hydropower generators as well as their refurbishment, upgrade or rehabilitation. As part of the global network of Voith Hydro, it offers a full range of hydroelectric equipment for all kinds of hydropower plants — from turbines to generators, from manufacturing to modernisation, from engineering to life-time services.
ABB — is a pioneering technology leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport and infrastructure globally. ABB has had operations in Zimbabwe for more than 50 years.
Hand in Hand —Social entrepreneurship and job creation organisation. It already has projects in Zimbabwe.
ND: From your interactions with the representatives of various companies that were part of the delegation, did you see any interest to come back and invest in Zimbabwe?
SC: There was a lot of engagement during the visit with both government officials and private sector. In addition, several B2B meetings were held and there were indications for a follow up visit.
ND: What is your impression about the prevailing business environment in Zimbabwe?
SC: Zimbabwe’s business environment has huge potential. However, challenges remain despite increased interest and optimism — both in Zimbabwe and abroad. We believe that the continued implementation of political and economic reforms, announced by the government, will be a key factor for Zimbabwe attracting more investments.
ND: How many Swedish companies have presence in Zimbabwe and in which sectors of the economy are they?
SC: There are currently 11 Swedish companies in various sectors of the economy, including mining and construction, energy, transport, Information and communication technology and manufacturing.
ND: How much has been exported to Sweden from Zimbabwe for the past 10 years and also how much imports have come to Zimbabwe from Sweden?
SC: Cumulatively Sweden has exported goods and services worth $223,7 million with an average of $22,3 million per year. On the other hand, we have (Sweden) imported goods worth $19 million cumulatively from Zimbabwe.
ND: Which products can Zimbabwe export to Sweden?
SC: Looking at the trend from previous years, we have noticed that the following products are imported from Zimbabwe; iron and steel, fruits and vegetables, furniture and ceramic products. However, I would encourage Zimbabwean companies to explore the Swedish market for their various goods and services. Textiles and leather garments are just some of the many products that could potentially be exported to Sweden.
ND: Are we going to see more Swedish companies coming into the country in the next few months?
SC: Zimbabwe has a lot of potential and Swedish companies are exploring the business opportunities available. There are increased interests from Swedish businesses and investors in general; and we believe that the continued implementation of political and economic reforms, announced by the government, will be a key factor for Zimbabwe attracting more investments.