Kudzanai Gerede Business Correspondent
This week, world leaders, bureaucrats and leading global business people are meeting at the 48th session of the annual World Economic Forum from 23-26 January in the resort town of Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, where economic cooperation and plan of action between public and private sector will shape the global economic trajectory for 2018.
For Zimbabwe, this is the first time a head of state has attended this prestigious gathering following an invite that was extended to President Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this year. Suffice to say former Prime minister Prof Arthur Mutambara once attended the summit during the inclusive government era.
This year’s event has been graced by leading figures such as US President Donald Trump, Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi who leads a strong delegation of 130 Indian bureaucrats and business people, Bank of England chief, Mark Carney and representatives of multinational companies and international financial lenders among others.
For Africa, the Southern African region however hogged the limelight at the summit, as three of the sub-region’s fresh faces are gracing the occasion as sell their countries that should draw a general curiosity to the region as an investment hot bed and more so for their respective countries in particular, all in the spirit of intra-regional cooperation in investment attraction.
These are Presidents Emmerson Mnanganwa (Zimbabwe), Joao Lourenco (Angola) and Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa).
For Zimbabwe, the invite comes as a massive boost to the country’s concerted efforts to bring international confidence in the governing administration that ushered in a new political and economic dispensation after years of international isolation that had dented investor confidence.
Since the new administration took over late last year, there have been key economic structural adjustments that have taken place which includes the reformation of the Indigenisation and empowerment law, fight against corruption and re engagement with the international community.
Analysts are confident the summit will give the President a chance to interact with leading global economic players particularly on issues to do with investment.
Foreign direct Investment has been very low in the country amounting to around US$ 600 million annually at a time countries such as Angola and South Africa were receiving over US$ 5 billion annually in investment.
Speaking to Post Business on the sideline of a breakfast meeting in Harare last week Wednesday, Finance and Economic Planning minister Patrick Chinamasa said it was high time the country engaged with the rest of the globe and find common purpose for the development of the economy as a prerequisite to creating strong investment and export links.
“This is a big platform for us tell the world that Zimbabwe is ready for business. We are going to utilize this opportunity to cajole capital into the country,” said the Finance minister.
“In many ways we are seeking to attract FDI. This is why the President will be going to Davos.
This is basically to explain to the global players, we are now in the global economy and we need that platform to explain that we are serious.
“We want to re-enter the global economy and are serious about it.
We want to be able to explain what we are doing, what our policies are and what we are doing, including explaining the current challenges we are facing and how they can be resolved and I am looking forward to that,” he added.
Prior to his departure, President Mnangagwa hinted that over 60 heads of states had already requested meetings on the sidelines of the Davos sessions to discuss areas of co-operation including heads of giant multinational firms like electronic manufacturer Philips among others.
However analysts have also indicated that the platform gives the Finance Minister a chance to up date on the debt clearance initiatives in order to balance the country’s books with international lenders before unlocking fresh capital. “We do not only have to convince investors outside to come and invest when on the other hand we are showing a poor record of balancing our own accounts as a country. We need to clear arrears and present to the world that this is what we are planning to do with regards to debt clearance and we are going to achieve it through such means,” said economic analyst Dr Gift Mugano. Observers have also called on the private sector and industry leaders who are part of the President’s delegation to take advantage of various initiatives presented at the summit that promote public-private sector co-operation.
Africa Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina who is also attending the summit has already indicated that the bank has launched a US$ 500 million fund to support businesses in Africa that are producing power in a decentralized way in order to circumvent energy challenges bedevilling African industrialisation.