Michael Tome Business Reporter
THE current Zimbabwean Government has unshackled the economy and is on the right path to start realizing meaningful returns despite economic headwinds that have hindered economic progress in the past, CBZ Holdings Limited chairman Marc Holtzman has said.
Mr. Holtzman said CBZ, Zimbabwe’s biggest bank, expects a full turnaround by the end of this year after a challenging financial year.
His sentiments follow the treasury’s upward revision of the 2021 agriculture projection to 36, 2 percent, indicating higher than anticipated output in grains and livestock production. CBZ, through its unit CBZ Agro-Yield, is the biggest private-sector funder of agricultural projects in the country.
The growth prospects for the country, come at a time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has upgraded its estimate for economic growth in Zimbabwe this year to 6 percent from 5, 1 percent spurred by buoyant manufacturing activity and increased construction and infrastructure development.
Speaking in an interview with CNBC Africa, Mr Holtzman highlighted that Zimbabwe currently possesses extreme potential which if exploited correctly would turn the county’s fortunes for the better.
He singled out agriculture as one sector that had registered commendable traction as farmers are now drifting towards high-value crops for the export market.
“In my 40 years in investment banking experience living in Russia Eastern Europe, Hong Kong, and Asia and other parts of Africa, the economy today in Zimbabwe is maybe the most exciting frontier emerging market that I have seen and I say it for several reasons.
“Just look at the agriculture sector, the hectarage of the blueberry farms, macadamia nuts, seed oil, high-value crops that farmers are moving towards from tobacco and other crops it is incredibly inspiring,” said Mr Holtzman.
On the state of foreign investments in the country, the CBZ chairman pointed to the metals and extractive sector as the foremost industry attracting inquiries from the global investor community.
He said, “I can tell you right now in the pipeline there are transactions that will show genuine substantive progress in minerals and natural resources, we are finding much interest from companies in mining and metal, the world is realizing and certainly the United States and the West are appreciating Zimbabwe’s strategic importance, in the fact that the largest lithium reserves in the world today exists in Zimbabwe”.
Turning to the recently concluded Intra Africa Trade Fair (IATF) Mr Holtzman highlighted that he was excited about the US$28 million loan facility from the Afreximbank which will be disbursed to mining and agriculture operations as they are anchors of the local economy.
“We are pleased to announce US$28 million in financing from Afreximbank, in a special facility and we are targeting at least half a dozen companies in the mining and in agriculture sectors right now and we are very pleased with that support.”
Excluding Agriculture which has performed exceptionally this year, Zimbabwe currently has huge nickel and lithium deposits, minerals whose importance is increasing given the global trends in technology where economies are moving towards the use of electric cars and clean energy.
Recently, The State of the Mining Industry Report established that a number of top executives in the mining sector are optimistic that the economy will grow in 2022 with most players planning to expand operations going forward.
Gas and oil exploration in Muzarabani is anticipated to complement Zimbabwe’s economic growth prospects in the future, bringing meaningful economic turnaround if exploited correctly.