President Mnangagwa is expected to host an investor round table tomorrow that will be headlined by the attendance of UK Trade Commissioner for Africa in the Department of International Trade, Mrs Emma Wade-Smith, who is the UK government’s most senior trade official in Africa.
This represents the progress that has been made in normalising relations between London and Harare, including mending relations with traditional partners.
The UK, whose trade volumes with Africa currently stand at £21 billion, is the second-largest investor on the continent after China.
The round table, which is part of a three-day event that is being held at the behest of Invest Africa — a platform for business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs to gain insight and exposure to information and opportunities from Africa — will also be attended by a high-powered delegation of British investors and business leaders.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said he had invited the delegation during his visit to the UK in April.
“You recall that when I went around the world as part of the re-engagement efforts, I went to the UK, and when I was there, there was a major conference which was organised by the business council of the UK on which I was a panellist because there was a ‘Focus on Zimbabwe’ (segment) during the conference.
“During that segment, I invited the business investment community of the UK to take the lead and come and explore investment opportunities in Zimbabwe under the new dispensation. And I specifically mentioned that for those fund managers and investment personalities who are looking for new emerging markets for investment, Zimbabwe is presenting itself as a classic example of one,” he said.
Dr Moyo said the latest development shows that the country is being readily accepted into the international fold.
The visiting delegation will be led by the chairperson of Invest Africa, Mr Rob Hersov, who is also chairperson and chief executive officer of London-headquartered African Capital Investments (ACI), an Africa-focused advisory firm that has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
It roundtable will also be graced by Mr Paul Hinks, the founder of US company Symbion Power, which specialises in infrastructure projects, especially in the establishment of power plants, transmission lines and substations.
Also in attendance will be Mr Christopher McKenzie, chairperson of Tangent Fund and Borets International, and Zimbabwean-born Mr Mason Cranswick, a chartered accountant, who is now a director of fixed income at Credit Suisse, a Swiss multinational investment bank and financial services company.
Tomorrow, President Mnangagwa will be accompanied by Finance and Economic Development Minister Mr Patrick Chinamasa, Energy and Power Development Minister Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, and the Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Chief Air Marshal (Retired) Perrance Shiri.
British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mrs Catriona Lang will host a cocktail event in the evening.
On Tuesday, the delegation will have the opportunity to have a roundtable with RBZ Governor Dr John Mangudya before being hosted for dinner by Masawara’s non-executive director, Mr Shingai Mutasa.
Mr Mutasa is famed for helping lure Britain’s top fund manager Mr Neil Woodford, who managed Investo Perpetual, to invest more than $25 million in Masawara in August 2010 at a time when investments in the country were considered to be risky.
On Wednesday, the delegation will have the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with ministers.
Government is confident that it will be able attract more meaningful investments after the meetings.
“When President Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe is open for business, this is testimony…As I said, they are coming in to explore investment opportunities so we expect that by the end of this tour they would have felt the comfort of where their money is going to be. They will have identified or made inferences of areas of investment,” Dr Moyo said.
The British government is presently scouting for opportunities in oil, gas, infrastructure, agricultural technology, renewable energy, defence and security
In March, Mrs Wade-Smith was quoted saying Britain intends to invest more than £21 billion in Africa.
“In Africa we have a risk appetite of over £21bn – that’s £21bn we could be investing in Africa, that African partners can be accessing. And we have a really competitive offer there in that we have an expectation of just a minimum of 20 percent of UK content for any of these sorts of projects,” she said in an interview with the African Business Magazine.
Relations between Britain and Zimbabwe continue to thaw on the back of President Mnangagwa’s stance on re-engagement and opening the country up for business.