ZIMBABWE is ripe for Middle Eastern investment in mining, agritech and financial technology, according to the chairman of CBZ Holdings, Zimbabwe’s biggest bank.
Marc Holtzman, who is also chairman at the Bank of Kigali, says Middle Eastern investors are already present in Zimbabwe and Rwanda, with Dubai Ports having a strong presence in both countries.
“With a new board in place since February last year, CBZ aims to reach global investors and become a conduit for foreign investment in Zimbabwe, including Middle Eastern investors,” Holtzman told Arabian Business.
“In particular, the UAE [United Arab Emirates] is everywhere and dominant,” he said.
“It’s been, especially aggressive through strategic investors,” he
The UAE is the second-largest investing country in Africa, second only to China, according to the Financial Times’ FDI Intelligence. Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has funded more than 66 projects in 28 African nations to a value of $16,6 billion.
Today, there are 17 000 African businesses registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry — many of these companies leverage Dubai as a base to attract investment into their own countries.
As the country with the most minerals per square kilometre, Zimbabwe offers an abundance of natural resource investments, the chairman said.
The country is one of the world’s largest gold, diamond and platinum producers, as well as home to vast reserves of tantalum and lithium.
“Unlike other parts of Africa where lots of the mining activities involve deep drilling or the resources are hard to access, in Zimbabwe it’s very accessible,” Holtzman said.
Referring to government estimates that the Zimbabwean economy contracted by around 6% in 2019 with bleaker predictions for 2020, the chairman insisted the current market landscape still offers opportunities for financial institutions in Zimbabwe, even amid high inflation rates.
“As recently as 18 months ago, our bank had a market capitalisation of $14 million, because the market was pricing in the country risk of the past. Today, the market capitalisation exceeds $500 million. Growth will be exponential,” Holtzman said
Zimbabwe was a closed economy for many years. However, the country is now open for business, the chairman said.
“Any investment in the diamond and platinum sector was limited to indigenous Zimbabweans — it’s now open to everyone. Now is the time for serious foreign investment to target the country and take advantage,” he added.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa unveiled a new five-year economic plan in November 2020 that is expected to deliver annual expansion of more than 5% through 2025.
The National Development Strategy 1 will focus on “accelerated growth”, driven by agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism.
The southern African nation, which owes more than US$8 billion to international financial institutions, still hopes to pursue an arrears-clearance programme with multilaterals including the World Bank.
Holtzman, who has previously served as vice-chairman of Barclays Capital and ABN Amro Bank, said there are significant mutual trade interests in the agritech space.— newZWire