EDITORIAL COMMENT: Exhibitors should take advantage of ZITF to scout for investors

ZITF spire

The 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) begins in Bulawayo today.

The exposition, which is running under the theme, “Sustainable Industrial Development-Inclusive. Competitive. Collaborative,” and ends on Saturday, is the biggest in recent years judging from the high number of exhibitors taking part. A total of 18 foreign nations — Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, China, Cyprus, Germany, Ghana, India, Namibia, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates are represented.

With regard to direct exhibitors, 495 of them had confirmed participation by Sunday, 25 percent of whom are local participants. The turnout is 40 percent higher than last year’s closing total of 356 direct exhibitors. The ZITF Company was so overwhelmed this year that it had to expand space to be able to cater for the high number of exhibitors.

The showcase has profited from the positive local business climate and renewed foreign investor sentiment arising from the policies that the new Government has been implementing since November.

The new administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who will officially open the expo on Friday, is relaxing laws that created an adverse investment environment, re-engaging the international community and creating an environment that is favourable for business to thrive.

As usual, the Bulawayo Agricultural Show and some specialised fairs of the event — A’Sambeni Africa Business Tourism Expo and Scholastica are underway as well.

We welcome all exhibitors and visitors — new and returning, foreign and local — to this year’s edition of ZITF and sincerely hope that their participation will be beneficial to them.

We invite all exhibitors and visitors to scout for business and investment opportunities in the country. The biggest positive factor now is the enabling environment that President Mnangagwa’s government is creating for the economy to recover and grow. Before he came into office, conditions were not good enough for any investment given the then tough indigenisation laws, knee-jerk policy positions and political uncertainty. Also, investors weren’t too certain about the security of their property rights and they faced immense challenges raising funding at international capital markets to invest here because of Zimbabwe’s then high country risk. Zimbabwe had poor relations with the outside world as well, particularly Europe and America.

However, the new Government realises that business cannot blossom in an isolated environment, hence the highly successful re-engagement agenda that has seen some of our ministers being permitted to market the country at Wall Street in the US and London with the President himself taking part at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.

These initiatives, and more, have brought our country back on the world map of business. As a result, commitments for foreign direct investment have exceeded $7 billion in five months.

Therefore, exhibitors at the ZITF who want to invest in Zimbabwe or to do business with Zimbabwe will be encouraged that the conditions will allow them to operate freely.

“This year’s exhibition is interesting and unique in that it takes place against a backdrop of a palpable national excitement and a renewed positive economic outlook,” said ZITF Company general manager, Mrs Nomathemba Ndlovu.

“We have seen an increase in exhibitor numbers and pre-registrations for other attendees as businesspeople from around the country seek to ride the wave of optimism that bodes well for our country.

“We have also seen an increase in the number of new local exhibitors as 25 percent of the 495 direct exhibitors who have confirmed participation will be participating for the first time. This, to us, is pleasing because it is indicative of an improved trading environment and renewed stimulus to compete in the global marketplace.”

Zimbabwe is indeed a virgin market that promises huge returns on investment.

The manufacturing sector provides many opportunities for new investments and investments into existing operations. Suppliers of equipment and plants will find the local manufacturing sector, which is saddled with antiquated machinery, attractive.

The agriculture and agro-processing sector is just as attractive. Farmers need machinery, they need finance, they need to be trained and many other requirements for them to boost their production and productivity.

Mining presents a wide range of opportunities.  Although the ZITF Company has a specialised fair for the mining industry, Mine Entra to be held later this year, the Ministry of Mines and Energy will be represented at this week’s fair. We have no doubt that mining companies will be represented as well so exhibitors wishing to have information about relevant prospects can always engage officials at the Ministry of Mines and Energy stand or companies involved.

The local tourism and hospitality industry is also open for business, so as the information, communication and technology sector, infrastructural development and many others.

We thus, welcome exhibitors to Bulawayo and hope that they will find the city and the country at large attractive investment destinations.

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