By Farai Mabeza
GERMAN medical technology company Siemens Healthineers says it plans to take advantage of the changing political and economic environment in Zimbabwe to expand its operations.
Siemens’ head of business development and strategy for East and West Africa, Andrew Forder, who was in Zimbabwe last week told The Financial Gazette that his company was closely watching the recent political changes to determine how they would affect the regulatory environment, which in the past has been seen to be hostile to foreign investment.
“There is a changing environment which everyone is very excited about. We want to understand how the local policies are potentially going to change, what the expectation for the future is and get an understanding of where we can help in a new Zimbabwe.
“People are talking about a new dawn. Everyone is very aware that there is a lot to be done in Zimbabwe and this can be taken forward in a positive manner,” Forder said.
He said his organisation would seek to grow present partnerships in the country while developing new ones.
“We are looking to grow the partnerships that we have. There are new business entities that we have acquired and we will look for alternative partners,” Forder said.
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority has said that it expects to approve projects valued at $2,5 billion this year on the back of broad economic reforms being adopted by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
Mnangagwa launched government’s investment guidelines in January just before he travelled to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum.
The investment policy statement spells out a plan for the next six months which includes modernisation of the legal framework for investment and strengthening investment promotion and retention.
Mnangagwa has been on an aggressive campaign to woo investors to halt an economic crisis that has been characterised by a liquidity crunch, cash shortages, company closures and job losses.
According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development statistics, investment inflows into Zimbabwe fell from $545 million in 2014 to $319 million in 2016.
Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, made bold pronouncements in his 2018 budget statement, removing indigenisation requirements that had stalled investment into the economy.
Only diamond and platinum mining is still subject to indigenisation requirements that were put in place in 2008 under the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.