Egyptian investors are targeting various key sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy, enchanted by the vast opportunities across the country and the allure of the “Zimbabwe is open for business” policy thrust since the Second Republic came into power.
Since coming into power in November 2017, the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, has been on an engagement and re-engagement drive to lure investors from across the globe to rebuild the economy.
For close two decades, Zimbabwe was isolated from the international community after successfully embarking on the land reform programme in 2000, which saw the country slapped with illegal sanctions by the West.
Under President Mnangagwa’s administration, the Second Republic has declared “Zimbabwe open for business” with a view to attracting foreign direct investment (FDIs) inflows from across the globe.
It is in this context that Egyptian investors have shown keen interest to invest in Zimbabwe’s different economic sectors that include mining, agriculture, food processing and manufacturing.
Speaking during a virtual Zimbabwe-Egypt Business Seminar this week, head of the Parliamentary Committee for African Affairs Dr Sherief Al-Gabaly said Zimbabwe and Egypt have a lot to offer to improve the trade balance between the two countries.
“Zimbabwe has great potential of course in agriculture, food processing and fertiliser production. I myself have been involved for two years now, I am trying to acquire a company in Zimbabwe. There is a company called Zimphos in Zimbabwe, which produces phosphate fertiliser, so we are very interested to go into a joint venture with Zimphos.
“Unfortunately, some accident happened last year when we were dealing with ZIDA (Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency), their managing director (Douglas Munatsi) died in a fire accident, so we hope now we can start again.
“We can do a lot as Egypt has a lot of experience in the fertiliser industry, Zimbabwe has a lot of raw materials and the market.
“That’s a classic example of how we should cooperate and that can be done in many other possible investment opportunities in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The virtual business seminar was organised by ZimTrade, the country’s national trade development and promotion agency in conjunction with the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Zimbabwe.
The seminar, which indicated trade between Zimbabwe and Egypt currently stands at US$44 million, was aimed at bolstering trade and investment between the two sister countries.
According to the International Trade Centre database, as at December 2021, Zimbabwe’s exports to Egypt totalled US$20,4 million while imports from that country stood at US$24 million.
Dr Al-Gabaly said despite the worrisome trade balance between the two countries, Egyptian businesspeople also have the potential to set up companies in Zimbabwe, taking advantage of the competitive and comparative advantage the country has in agriculture, mining and food processing.
“We need to form companies in African countries, in this case, Zimbabwe.”
“Zimbabwe has a very important mineral called lithium which is used in producing batteries for electrical motor vehicles.
“So, why don’t we start working with Zimbabwe on extracting the lithium rather than trying to work on the lithium batteries.
“So, as the Egyptian Businessmen Association, we will organise a trade mission to Zimbabwe and I hope that it will be well organised. Before Covid-19 we have had several of these trade missions to South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and many other countries in Eastern Africa.”
Dr Al–Gabaly said his country also has potential in food processing, metallurgical, engineering, mechanical, and chemical industries.
“Unfortunately, they are not as strong as they should be in Zimbabwe. This is what we should work on through professional trade missions.
Earlier in his presentation, Egypt Assistant Foreign Minister of African Affairs Ambassador Mohamed Albadry said the low trade statistics between the two countries was on account of lack of awareness on what each of the countries offer.
He said Egypt has a lot to offer in the health sector in terms of medical expertise, pharmaceuticals or other issues pertaining to the functioning of hospitals.
Construction, infrastructure, Information Communication Technology (ICT) are also some of the sectors in which Egypt has a comparative and competitive advantage over Zimbabwe. Egypt is Africa’s second-largest economy and among the top-performing economies on the continent with a gross domestic product (GDP) exceeding US$410 billion, growing by more than three times compared to the 2015 GDP levels.
Speaking at the same occasion, Egypt Commercial Minister Plenipotentiary Head of Arica Affairs Mr Aly Mohamed Basha indicated that in 2020, his country recorded FDIs amounting to US$5,9 billion while exports amounted to an average of US$47,9 billion of goods and services.
Egypt, which is also the largest producer of oil and second largest producer of natural gas in Africa, Mr Basha said is working to be the industrial hub for energy products and electricity in the region.
Over the past three year, he said his country has undertaken market-led reforms as well as legislative reforms by issuing new investment law, industrial licensing law and amendment of the Companies Act with a view to attract local and FDIs.
“Egypt is implementing an ambitious programme to stabilise its economy and Egypt’s foreign investments is expected to grow in the coming four years hitting around US$16,5 billion and will be the fastest growth in the region,” he said.
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