By Justin Mahlahla
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has officially opened the Zimbabwe-Rwanda Trade and Investment Conference, calling on Rwanda to take advantage of the numerous investment opportunities available in Zimbabwe.
He said the conference gives impetus to efforts by the two partners to strengthen commercial ties and accelerate the implementation of mutual programmes and projects towards improving the standard and quality of life of the people of Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
“On behalf of the people and Government of Zimbabwe, I want to welcome the business delegation from Rwanda. This timely visit demonstrates the focus, determination and commitment to the prime objectives we set for ourselves with regards our broadening the trade and investment partnerships between our two countries,” said the President.
Running under the theme: ‘Explore, Invest, Export’, the conference resonates well with the widely accepted view that trade, investment and exports are key drivers of sustainable socio-economic development and growth, said President Mnangagwa.
He said Zimbabwe’s exports are critical aspects of the National Development Strategy 1 and Zimbabwe’s quest to realise sustainable economic growth, hence investments and exports are also key in improving the delivery of quality services to the general populace, including health services, more so as emerging global pandemics such as COVID-19 pose a threat to humanity.
“In light of this, my Government remains committed to creating an environment that is conducive for business, while realising the expansion of economic cooperation, trade and investment. We, thus, stand ready to welcome investors and global capital from across all countries of the world.”
President Mnangagwa said the cordial, fraternal and excellent relations between Rwanda and Zimbabwe should continue to spur growth of business across various sectors of the economy, adding, “We have the collective responsibility to shift the historical trend, which was characterised by low trade volumes between our two friendly countries, despite the existence of huge potential. In this regard, I applaud ZIMTRADE and the Rwanda Development Board for the excellent work in facilitating joint efforts and the networking of the private sector from both countries. It is my expectation and that of my dear brother and colleague, the President of the Republic of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame that, ZIMTRADE and the Rwanda Development Board’s partnership must result in increased trade flows and volumes, while leapfrogging the quality of ‘Made in Zimbabwe” and “Made in Rwanda’ products and goods respectively to penetrate global markets.”
He challenged the two trade promotion bodies “as strategic bodies of our jurisdictions, to deploy your capabilities and all-encompassing institutional capacities towards driving the sustainable socio-economic development of our countries. Now is the time for you to actualise the various agreements between our two countries, while improving the efficacy in our trade and economic competitiveness. A sustained positive shift within our countries’ respective industry and commerce ecosystems must be pursued with greater focus and vigour. Yours must be a commitment to partner, act and leave an indelible mark on the economic fabric of our two countries.”
“To date, the collaboration on the economic reform front, has resulted in several reform measures being undertaken by my Government to improve the business operating environment and the benchmarking of our economy. These have seen us recording remarkable milestones, as the economy remains on an upward growth trajectory. The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency is facilitating the processing of investment proposals, including issuance of investment certificates, associated permits and licences, among other aspects. This has provided the much-needed convenience to investors,” he said.
“Furthermore, my Administration has addressed issues that were of concern to investors in the past. These include guaranteeing security to investment and allowing repatriation of profits, as well as dividends and royalties.
“Over and above this, my Administration continues to prioritise the issuance of sector specific investment incentives. These include tax holidays, import duty exemption on importation of equipment and machinery, and suspension of import duty on raw materials, among others. On the back of these investment promotion instruments and our mantra ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’, I call upon our dear brothers and sisters from the Republic of Rwanda to invest in Zimbabwe, the land of opportunities.”
“At the Continental level, intra-African trade and investment which saw trade volumes growing in 2020, to US$120 billion, is a clear reflection of the vast trade and investment opportunities within our continent. In this context, companies from both Rwanda and Zimbabwe, must exploit the business prospects presented under the Common Market for East and Southern Africa and the African Continental Free Trade Area. These platforms provide a gateway for entering global value chains, a shared pathway towards an integrated Africa, as well as the realisation of the Africa we all want,” he added.
He indicated that Zimbabwe is moving with speed in domesticating key aspects of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This includes reviewing investment related legislation, upgrading of the country’s borders into one stop border posts and upgrading of airport facilities as well as road and rail network to facilitate the smooth flow of goods.
“The outcomes and recommendations of the Conference deliberations must continue to inculcate a culture of progressive collaboration, production and productivity. In this regard, I call upon our industrialists to enhance value addition, and diversify our export mix through competitive and efficient value chains. In doing so, Africa will put to an end the perennial and unfortunate challenge of exporting primarily raw commodities from its sectors of the economy,” noted President Mnangagwa.
He added that the deliberations at the conference should result in the crafting and refining of models to nurture entrepreneurial skills and grow businesses in sync with changing realities and trends the world over, taking into account the aspects of the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution, which include research and development, innovation, entrepreneurship, as well as building resilience and adaptive capabilities.
The President assured the conference of his Administration’s continued support in accelerating trade and investments between Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
“Rwanda is and shall remain Zimbabwe’s friend. Hence, we stand prepared to engage and dialogue on various areas of Mutual Corporation, trade and investment, among others, with the fraternal people and the Government of Rwanda.With these remarks, it is now my honour and privilege to declare the Zimbabwe-Rwanda Trade and Investment Conference officially open. I wish you fruitful deliberations and a successful conference.”