Story by Owen Mandovha
BILATERAL economic relations between Russia and Zimbabwe continue to strengthen after the visiting Russian Business delegation held talks to operationalise the twinning arrangement between one of Russia’s biggest industrial regions with the Midlands Province.
This high-level engagement is set to take Zimbabwe – Russia cooperation to a new level whereby the visiting Russian delegation led by Foreign Economic Relations Minister of the Sverdlovsk Region Honourable Vyacheslav Yarin is making a follow-up visit to the arrangement entered between the two governments to twin Sverdlovsk Region and the Midlands Province made a few years ago.
Midlands Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Senator Larry Mavhima played host to the Russian delegation and cited areas where the Midlands Province holds a competitive edge to benefit from twinning with the Sverdlovsk Region.
“The Midlands Province is a mining Province hence our focus is to create linkages that harness such to fully realise our potential as a Province in the mining sector hence the need for Russians to invest in that area,” said Minister Mavhima.
Considered one of the key industrial provinces of Russia endowed with vast oil and gas reserves and home to world-class modern industrial parks, the twinning arrangement is the beginning of mutual agreements to make it feasible to develop Midlands Province’s industrial capacity while paving way for increased economic cooperation with Russia.
“There is room to increase trade with Zimbabwe but issues to do with settlements of trades are a big hindrance hence these engagements make it possible for us to make that possible. The Sverdlovsk Region produces key industrial goods like fertiliser and oil so in future we foresee increased linkages along those lines,” said Honourable Yarin.
ZANU PF spokesperson Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was part of the engagements, said Russia’s developed steel industry provides huge impetus to the ongoing Manhize Iron and Plant Project.
“Russia is a global powerhouse and has a developed steel industry whose experience comes at an opportune time for Zimbabwe to develop its industry as the Manhize Iron and Steel plant is progressing well,” he said.
The Memorandum of Understanding on the twinning agreement will be signed soon and during the proceedings, Zimbabwe was invited to attend the University International Sports Festival slated for Ekaterinburg from the 19th to 31 August bringing together student-athletes from around the world.
The maiden Zimbabwe Russia Business Forum is set to be held in Moscow in June, another grand opportunity for Zimbabwe’s business community to cement ties with Russia’s economic juggernaut.
After the day’s engagements, the Russian delegation toured several companies in Harare, including the Pomona Waste to Energy Project which is set to establish a 22-megawatt power plant by converting waste into energy.