INDUSTRIALISTS expect to cash in on deals set to be signed between Zimbabwe and Botswana, and explore opportunities to deepen their footprint in the neighbouring country.
Preparatory meetings for the inaugural Zimbabwe-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) started yesterday, with Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary Ambassador James Manzou, indicating that the meetings would finalise the operationalisation of almost US$600 million in facilities for the country’s private sector and diamond industry.
The first Zimbabwe-Botswana BNC comes ahead of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit expected in the next two weeks.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe told The Herald yesterday that the visits by the two neighbouring countries’ leaders, and deals set to be signed in various areas such as mining and geology, agriculture, science and technology, and diplomacy; would go a long way in boosting local firms.
Mr Jabangwe said it was critical for Harare to ensure that it strengthens relations with its neighbours.
“Zimbabwe and the two countries, Botswana and South Africa, should actually develop strong linkages because these are our neighbours who we should share value chains with,” said Mr Jabangwe.
“Look, Botswana wants to grow its economy and Zimbabwe wants more investments; and Botswana has a fairly high ranking for its banks in terms of attracting capital from abroad.
“So when Botswana diversifies into Zimbabwe, local businesses can also take advantage of some of these joint ventures that governments are forging, and supply some of their products into Botswana and grow their businesses.”
Mr Jabangwe said relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa could also be crucial for local businesses.
“South Africa is the biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, the biggest market is actually close to us, and with a population of over 50 million people, that is a huge market, especially with their high per capita income.
“So we expect the Bi-National Commissions to help local entrepreneurs to penetrate that market.
“With Botswana, we already have a Memorandum of Understanding with Business Botswana signed during the last visit to Botswana by HE (His Excellency President Mnangagwa), and we need to meet and strengthen the relations,” said Mr Jabangwe.
Economist Persistence Gwanyanya yesterday said the $600 million facility that Gaborone is keen to extend to Harare is “more realistic” as a “significant amount” is primed to support the diamond industry.
“It is actually good for Botswana to diversify its economy by considering investing offshore in countries such as Zimbabwe, which is one of the countries with significant investment opportunities in Africa.
“Look here, we have more than 40 well sought-out minerals in the world and Botswana has only one, diamonds. This means there are significant business opportunities to grab in Zimbabwe, as the country tries to rebuild.
“You should also know that Botswana is rated as the best investment destination in Southern Africa and can easily attract international capital to invest all over the world.
“But what is important is to ensure that we improve our investment environment to also attract this capital from Botswana. We really need to work hard on this score especially through working on ease of doing business reforms,” he said