From Victoria Ruzvidzo in Kigali, Rwanda
Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote has said his impending investments in Zimbabwe are on course and that he will not rescind the decision.
In an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Africa here yesterday, Mr Dangote said a team was in the country finalising logistics while another would soon be in Zimbabwe as preparations for take-off gather steam.
“We are working on it. In fact, my team is on it right now. We have people there (in Zimbabwe) and we are making good progress,” he said.
Mr Dangote came to Zimbabwe last September and expressed keen interest to pour millions of dollars into power generation, coal mining and cement manufacturing. He met President Mugabe, his two Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Cabinet ministers and representatives from the corporate sector.
The deals will form some of the major investments that Zimbabwe has witnessed in recent years, further endorsing the potential the country holds as a destination for foreign direct invest- ment.
His Nigeria Stock Exchange-listed conglomerate intends to set up a cement manufacturing plant that will produce at least 1,5 million metric tonnes per year while large sums of money are destined for power generation and coal mining.
Mr Dangote has already secured the requisite licences from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority as also confirmed by ZIA chief executive Richard Mbaiwa a few months ago.
“We are not here looking to invest. We have already made up our mind to invest so we are here and we will invest,” he was quoted as saying during his visit last year.
Yesterday he stressed that he was not perturbed by negative reports about developments in the economy.
“Challenges don’t drive us away,” he said.
There were reports in some sections of the media that the Nigerian business mogul, founder of the Dangote business empire that straddles across Africa, had developed cold feet.
But yesterday he reaffirmed his intention to set up shop in Zimbabwe.
He has already engaged consultants and lawyers to finalise the deals. Forbes estimates that the business tycoon is worth $17,5 billion.
He recently entered into a $4,3 billion deal with Chinese firm Sinoma. This deal will increase his group’s cement production to 70 million tonnes annually. Dangote Holdings aspires to reach 100 million tonnes by 2020 and Zimbabwe is already featuring as one investment that will help achieve the target.
The conglomerate recently invested $400 million in a cement manufacturing plant in Zambia. The firm is importing coal from Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe expects to grow its foreign direct investment portfolio to generate more jobs, create wealth and contribute significantly to its Gross Domestic Product as part efforts to revive the economy.
The country’s detractors have been on a campaign to dissuade investors from giving a second look on Zimbabwe but much of this has been futile. Zimbabwe has hosted numerous trade and investment delegations in recent months from which concrete deals have emerged and are at different stages of implemen- tation.