IT is my singular honour and privilege to have been invited to address this virtual Africa Reconstruction Global Summit organised by the World Economic Congress.
The theme of this conference, Collaborating towards Economic Reconstruction of Zimbabwe and Africa, is most opportune.
The focus of the summit is also in tandem with my country’s fortitude to quickly rebound following the deleterious effects of colonialism and economic sanctions.
We have the resilience to emerge in the post COVID-19 world, with an industrialised and modern society which competitively participates in Africa and the global economy.
Zimbabwe is a Christian nation, which is pleased to identify with the World Economic Congress and congratulates you for the impact the organisation continues to make since its formation.
The background of this summit is, indeed, significantly different to that which surrounded our last meeting.
The COVID-19 pandemic has gravely wounded the world economy with serious consequences to all communities and individuals.
The repercussions and impact on trade, investment and development will be far reaching.
However, we remain emboldened by the word of God which says that: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant, whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (Ecclesiastes 11:4).
This gathering is aptly occurring soon after the starting of trading under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), on January 1, 2021.
The much-anticipated development and adoption of the Pan-African Payment Settlement System is equally progressing well.
The system will see the domestication of intra-continental trade payments, thereby saving Africa billions of dollars in payment transactions, while boosting trade among countries on the continent.
In addition, the African Union Assembly held over the weekend declared 2021-2031 as the “decade of African Roots and Diasporas”.
The initiative recognises that the diaspora constitutes and important economic, social, political and cultural powerhouse in the implementation of Agenda 2063 and the development process of the continent.
These programmes are a bold demonstration by the current crop of African leaders to follow through the aspirations of the Founding Fathers of our continent to see a united, integrated and prosperous Africa.
The spirit of optimism and confidence in the prospects for Zimbabwe and Africa must lace our discourse around investments and partnerships towards economic reconstruction.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Since March 2018, when we held the National Elders’ Forum, in Harare, our country has put to action the National Vision 2030, which is to become an Empowered and Prosperous Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
The vision embodies the collective aspiration and determination of the people of Zimbabwe to rebuild and transform their economy, leveraging on the country’s natural resources and competitive advantages.
The Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), which we implemented from October 2018 to December 2020, saw my government recalibrate its focus to new priorities such as macro-economic stability, governance, infrastructure development, inclusive economic growth and social services.
The successor police of the TSP, the National development Strategy 1 (2021-2025), will further give impetus to our economic growth and stability; food and nutrition security; governance; human capital development; environmental protection and climate resilience; housing delivery; establishment of a digital economy; strengthening our health and social protection infrastructure, among other pillars.
To deliver these priorities over the shortest possible timeframes, my administration is nurturing a culture of hard honest work, integrity, transparency and accountability. Delegates, interested investors and partners are, therefore, assured that Zimbabwe remains “open for business”.
The country has vast opportunities in natural resource endowments, high literacy rates, highly skilled labour force, relatively developed basic infrastructure and a diversified industry.
Furthermore, our location along the South-North corridor gives us a geo-strategic advantage as a gateway into southern Africa and the entire African markets.
While shocks such as droughts, floods, cyclones and the current COVID-19 pandemic have naturally brought to the fore gaps in our structures, our economy remains resilient.
We also recognise that maintaining macroeconomic stability is an important part of the growth and investment equation of any country.
My government has, therefore, prioritised prudent fiscal and monetary policy and inflation control measures.
To this end, bold reforms are also being undertaken to eliminate market distortions, improve the ease of doing business environment, ensure the protection of private property rights and overall consolidate democracy and bolster free market enterprises.
Strides have been made in the development of a vibrant investment ecosystem, which is highly consistent and predictable.
The World Bank in 2019 acknowledged the country as one of the best performers in the world.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency acts as a vehicle for promoting an appropriate and competitive investment environment as a one-stop shop investment centre.
Government has since stabilised the exchange rate and slowed down price volatility.
The system has ensure foreign currency availability for raw materials, machinery and equipment, essential and strategic imports including pharmaceuticals, chemicals and fuel.
Similarly, the system enables availability of foreign currency for remittances of dividends.
In light of the ongoing developments under AfCFTA, Zimbabwe is a strategic investment destination.
A vibrant and thriving Zimbabweans economy will contribute to the attainment of Agenda 2063 and the realisation of the “Africa we all want”.
The vast investment opportunities in our country are expansive and extend across all sectors of the economy.
We are grateful to Gold Almighty for the ongoing good rainfall patterns experienced this current agriculture season. The above normal rainfall will support agricultural production and productivity.
The present thrust is on efficient and sustainable utilisation of our land, taking advantage of the good climatic conditions and good soils in the country.
The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy being implemented by my government has attendant vast investment opportunities.
These are in horticulture, agro-processing, development of rural industry systems, irrigation development and agriculture mechanisation.
Over and above these opportunities, there are prospects in the organic food production and value chains.
In the words of Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group, I quote: “By 2030, the size of the food and agriculture business in
Africa will reach one trillion dollars. So if you are thinking of how to make money, that is the sector to be in.”
Africa is ready to feed the world and Zimbabwe is determined to be a key player in this regard.
In the mining sector, the country has a diversified mineral resource base of over 55 exploitable minerals that should underpin economic growth going forward.
The strategy of creating a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 is a reflection of our commitment to facilitate and support investments in the mining sector.
Reforms in the sector saw the removal of the previous shareholding restrictions for foreign investors. These indigenisation requirements have been repealed.
Opportunities exist for investors in the areas of exploration, mining, beneficiation and value-addition, smelting, refining of minerals such as platinum, chrome, nickel, copper, gold and coal.
In terms of incentives, investors enjoy deductions on all capital expenditure on exploration, development and operations for any mining operation.
The 2020 growth of the manufacturing sector, highlighted by our central bank statistics, reflect the potential of the sector to spur development and attract investment.
Prospects are specifically in sub-sectors of foodstuffs, drinks and beverages, textile and ginning, clothing and footwear, paper, printing and publishing, metal and non-metallic products, chemical and petroleum products as well as transport and equipment.
Favourable conditions are available to investors with government allowing duty exemptions on imported capital equipment and raw materials used in the manufacturing of goods for export.
The tourism sector is one of the sectors with potential to drive growth of our economy, having recorded successive growth in the period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country has vast tourist attractions, ranging from natural to man-made historical sites.
Investments can be in areas such as the hotel industry, safari and tour operations, gaming, construction and operation of international conventional centres as well as hunting and photographic safari, among other aspects.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Functional infrastructure remains key to unlocking the economic growth potential, increase competitiveness and productivity, while equipping public services to meet demand.
We are, as a country, in need of inclusive and resilient social infrastructure. This requires massive investment riding on various financing models.
The current trend is that the private sector has become an integral part of the society, able to help build communities, livelihoods and improve the quality of the life of the people.
Consequently, the private players are invited to partner government in the expansion and modernisation of roads, rail, airports, shopping malls, industrial parks, power generation, dam construction, housing and water reticulation, among others.
The strengthening of the health delivery infrastructure also remains a priority.
Meanwhile, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and the need to deploy technology made in Zimbabwe and Africa has become urgent and important.
The ongoing pandemic has further accelerated the need for the establishment and growth of a digital economy as well as expansion and investment in e-commerce, telemedicine, videoconferencing, online teaching and financial technologies.
As part of the drive to make the country an investment destination of choice, my government has launched the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange in our resort city of Victoria Falls, which we designated a financial services Special Economic Zone.
Its main activity is to provide a gateway for companies in Zimbabwe, Sadc and the rest of the Sub-Saharan Africa to raise capital in foreign currency.
It also offers investors and opportunity to trade in the secondary market in hard currency. The Victoria Falls Stock Exchange trades solely in foreign currency.
The present global health crisis has exposed the need to redouble our efforts to create a world in which integration, trade, investment and partnerships are used as tools for achieving sustainable prosperity for all.
There is no time to mourn. Let us rise and shine emboldened by the promises we have in the word of God coupled with the values of hard honest work, Pan-Africanism, transparency, accountability and unity.
Encouraged by the word of God in Nehemiah 2 verse 17, our continent lies in ruins and its gats have been burned with various forms of fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of our beautiful continent and we will no longer be in disgrace.
Together, we can reconstruct and build a stronger and more resilient Africa.
This reconstruction will, indeed, depend on how we harness new technologies and the effective deployment of our women and youth population both on the continent and in the diaspora, as active participants and beneficiaries.
As Africa, let us continue to promote the various building blocks for rapid co-operation while urgently addressing threats and stimulating job creation and fuelling sustainable economic growth.
With these remarks, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the leadership of the World Economic Congress for honouring me and my delegation to engage in an array of stakeholders attending this summit.
Rest assured that my administration will continue supporting the World Economic Congress development agenda.
God bless you.
I thank you.