Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter
CHINESE billionaire William Ding is expected in Bulawayo today to attend the Local Government Economic Development Forum 2015. William, also called Ding Lei, is the chairperson of NetEase, one of China’s largest home grown online game companies, which ranks number 10 on the Forbes China Rich List published this year, with an estimated fortune of $8,2 billion.
The Local Government Economic Development Forum 2015, which will see a number of companies, including local authorities exhibiting their products and services will be held under the theme: “Adressing post 2015 development agenda challenges, localising UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
The three-day event, which is expected to come up with strategies on how to localise and implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, kicks off today at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Macro Economic Planning and Investment Minister Obert Mpofu, as well as Zimbabwe Investment Authority chairman Nigel Chanakira are expected to grace the event.
The event’s spokesperson Samantha Khosa told The Chronicle that William is expected to address the forum and hold meetings with the ministers.
She, however, could not be drawn to reveal when exactly the billionaire will address the forum, saying they were still working on the programme.
“Our programme will run from 15 to 17 December and we’re expecting Ding, a Chinese billionaire to grace this occasion. He will give a speech and share his experiences on how he became a billionaire. I’m sure businesspeople and those who are aspiring to start business will learn a lot from him.
“As Zimbabwe we’re privileged to have such people visiting and sharing their success stories with us. We definitely need assistance in many aspects of our economy and I’m certain that Ding’s visit will have a positive impact on our economy,” said Khosa.
She said William was also looking forward to investing in the country adding that individuals would have an opportunity to interact with him. “Individuals will be allowed to talk to him about business issues. Minister Kasukuwere is our guest of honour and we’re expecting a number of ministers and delegates to be part of this event.
“We’ve also lined up guest speakers to give us presentations on different economic topics that are expected to improve the country’s economy,” said Khosa.
She urged entrepreneurs to attend the event, which she said would equip them with skills that would enable them to be part of the economic turnaround.
“I want to encourage entrepreneurs to come in their numbers and be part of this forum because our guest speakers will give us brilliant ideas on how to tackle economic issues and overcome most challenges we’re facing as a country. As a country we’ve realised that the 2015 Millennium Development Goals didn’t really work because we’ve different economies. The forum is therefore expected to localise the development goals and come up with strategies and solutions that will give us sustainable results,” said Khosa.
She said exhibitors who are interested in being part of the forum were welcome as there was still space for more exhibitors.
Mayors, town clerks, heads of departments, civil society organisations, entrepreneurs and business executives are expected to attend the event.
China has become the country’s biggest trading partner, with trade statistics between the two countries peaking to nearly $1, 2 billion between January and November last year compared to $1,1 billion for the whole of 2013.