Interview: CEOART scouts for investment

Kipson Gundani

A delegation of Zimbabwean business executives led by the CEO Africa Round Table (CEOART) has returned from the United States of America following about three weeks of engagement with markets in that country. Last week, out Senior Business Reporter, Mthandazo Nyoni (MT) caught up with CEOART boss, Kipson Gundani for a review of the trip. They also discussed CEOART’s upcoming annual conference set to happen in Victoria Falls next month. Below are excerpts from the interview…

MN: Tell us about the recent CEO Africa Roundtable trip to the United States of America. What do you hope to achieve?

KG: Outward-bound missions by CEO Africa Roundtable are mainly exploratory with the aim of shaping business relationships with the world.  The focus is on providing networking opportunities, linkages and twinning arrangements and knowledge exchange. We also want to make deals on behalf of participating delegates and members of the Roundtable in general. In particular, our just-ended mission to the USA aimed to find potential partners and promote investment and trade in targeted sectors such as energy.

MN: What is your comment about the current investment climate in Zimbabwe?

KG: The investment climate has been improving and a classical development is a decrease in the number of days required to register a company. While a lot can still be done, Zimbabwe continues to climb the ladder positively in business reforms. However, we implore the authorities to look at the broader macro-economic picture of the country and risk perception which continues to undermine inward investment.

MN: You have held quite a number of investment scouting trips. Is the Zimbabwe brand sellable? What do investors out there say about the investment climate in the country?

KG: We can safely say whilst a few investors might have reservations, Zimbabwe’s remarkable resources and diversified economy makes it an attractive destination for investment. In our most recent business missions, the priority sectors for investment included manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, ICT, health, infrastructure development as well as transport and logistics. Business deals were sealed, and most organisations who participated in trade missions have or are working on registering their companies in countries like Malawi and Zambia to start their operations. They are also utilising new partnerships to grow their businesses locally.

MN: As business leaders, are you happy with monetary and fiscal policies that have been implemented since the beginning of the year?

KG: The fiscal environment continues to improve with the only elephant in the room being over expenditure, which of late, has been the biggest driver of monetary movement and exchange misalignment. We have also seen a great allocation of resources towards capital expenditure, a development which in my view guarantees future. With respect to monetary policy more can still be done to boost confidence. However, the containment of money supply growth has been a phenomenal performance by the monetary authorities. I suggest we move towards a currency board to try and boost confidence around the whole financial intermediation in Zimbabwe. Overall, there is a need for consultative policymaking to have stakeholder buying as part of the confidence building. The economy is growing albeit at a very slow pace. If the discipline on the fiscal front persists, we could witness the stabilisation of the exchange rate and graduation convergence of the official and parallel market rates. Giving stimulus for rapid growth in my view requires an external injection of the much-needed capital to expand on product frontiers.

MN: CEO Africa Roundtable is set to hold its annual conference next month. Share with us the key highlights.

KG: We are expecting an intriguing discussion on the Zimbabwe economy, cryptocurrencies, supply chain disruptions performance of parastatals, and climate change amongst many others. Speakers are drawn from cabinet ministers and experts from the academia both from the public and private sectors. Noted speakers to grace the event include Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube, chair of the African Union Diaspora African Forum Americas, Arikana Chihombori, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya, Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Settlement minister Anxious Masuka among many others

MN: What is the theme for this year’s conference?

KG: This year’s annual roundtable is running under the theme, “Advancing systemic leadership and shaping a better future for all.” The theme is premised on the understanding that for Zimbabwe and Africa in general to progress, astute leadership is required from both the public and private sectors.

MN: Who will officially open the conference?

KG: We have invited President Emmerson Mnangagwa to officially open the annual roundtable 2022.

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