Charity Ruzvidzo Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) approved investment projects worth $1.14 billion in 2014, a 66.6 percent increase from $685.9 million worth of projects approved in 2013.ZIA chairman Nigel Chanakira yesterday told Business Chronicle that most investors last year were interested in the manufacturing sector.
“Last year ZIA approved investments worth $1.14 billion, an increase from $685.9 million in 2013. Investors were more interested in the manufacturing sector of the economy. In the past few years interest has been in the mining sector,” he said.
Chanakira said more than five countries had visited Zimbabwe this year with keen interest to explore investment opportunities in the country.
“The Russians, Chinese, British, Turks and the French are among some of the countries that have shown interests in investing in the country this year. From a ZIA perspective the delegations look very promising. Judging by the interactions we had we’re optimistic they’ll invest,” he added.
Chanakira said out of the 732 projects approved between 2009 and 2013, a total of 255 were now operational.
“In 2009 we approved 127 projects and 75 are operational. In 2010, 163 projects were approved and 61 are now operational. In 2011, 105 projects were approved and 61 of these projects are now operational. In 2012, 166 projects were approved and 72 of these are now operational,” he said.
Chanakira said investors were ready to work with Zimbabwe and help improve the national economy.
“Investors show a lot of interest when they visit the country to explore investment opportunities. As Zimbabweans we need to help investors by clarifying our investment laws. They must be simple and straightforward,” he said.
Foreign direct investment is key towards revamping the country’s ailing industry and creating jobs for a majority of Zimbabweans in line with the government’s economic blue-print, Zim-Asset.
A 2014 manufacturing sector survey conducted by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has shown that the capacity utilisation in the sector has dropped to 36,3 percent from a comparative average of 39,6 percent in the previous year.
The poor performance of the sector has been attributed to increased imports fuelled by low domestic competitiveness largely due to high costs of production.
Statistics indicate Zimbabwe’s import bill for the half-year to June in 2014 stood at about $3 billion, just about the same figure as the 2014 national budget.
The industry survey also revealed that across all sectors of the country’s tottering economy, the trading environment has deteriorated, with nearly all companies struggling to stay afloat due to depressed demand and the inability by cash-strapped customers to pay for goods and services on time.
The government has, however, come up with a cocktail of measures to revamp the economy among them review of the indigenisation legislation, proposed labour law reforms and setting up of a Cabinet committee to address issues of enhancing domestic product competitiveness by arresting cost drivers.
Given the increased interest to invest in the country, Zimbabwe is geared for improved economic performance.