Interest in Zimbabwe by Indian investors is growing, while firms from the Asian economic giant already in the country have maintained presence despite the
tough operating conditions, Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Rungsung Masakui has said.
Ambassador Masakui said while Zimbabwe went through difficult economic conditions over the past few years, this had also presented opportunities, which
Indian firms seized without hesitation.
The challenges, which claimed the scalp of many businesses, made it difficult for many firms to produce, leaving the country dependent on imports, but
creating opportunities Indian firms have grabbed.
Ambassador Masakui said this during a tour of Cangrow Trading, RAHA cooking oil producer, in Norton by new Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza.
The tour was organised by Norton Independent Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa.
The tour, to familiarise with the challenges the firm is facing, was Minister Nzenza’s first industry visit since her latest appointment, and was also
attended by Mashonaland West Resident Minister Mary Mliswa.
Minister Nzenza is former Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister.
The Indian diplomat said while many Indian investors were already operating in Zimbabwe, more had made enquiries to invest. India also enjoys strong cordial
relations with Zimbabwe at government level.
“We have in the last three years of my stay here, been encouraging Indian businesspeople to come in and explore the possibility of investing in various
areas, including education, health, SMEs, agriculture and energy.
“In the last three years, despite the difficult situation that Zimbabwe has gone through, if you see the investment registration with Zimbabwe Investment
Authority (ZIA); in 2016 it was 13 registrations.
“In 2017, for reasons unknown to me, it came down to seven, but in 2018 it went up to 37 registrations with ZIA. This year, registration with ZIA by new
Indian companies coming in, to June 2019, was 25. I will not be surprised if it hits 50.”
Most investment enquiries have been in the mining, agriculture and small to medium enterprise (SME) sectors. The companies also intend to produce and export
back to India, the world’s second most populous nation, especially with regard to processed foods and vegetable products.
But Ambassador Masakui said while the interest from Indian investors continued to grow, Zimbabwe needed to do more to improve the ease of doing business in
Some of the big Indian investors already in Zimbabwe are edible oil producers Cangrow Trading and Surface Wilmar, Varun Beverages and Splash paints, which
has just opened a plastic recycling company.
Minister Nzenza said what she saw during the visit to the oil making plant was incredible and Zimbabwe’s industry must go same way.
“What we have seen here is innovation and productivity. We have seen creation of jobs and we have seen affordable cooking oil, which is needed in almost
every single household in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Minister Nzenza said Zimbabwe had a long history of cordial socio-economic and political relations with India, but more than that private investment from
that country was producing results.
“This company, RAHA, is producing about 56 percent of the cooking oil consumption in Zimbabwe and I would only appeal through the ambassador, to the
Government of India, that what we need here is modernisation of industry so we can produce more and also creation of jobs and capacity building,” she said.
She implored Indian firms, as Zimbabwe explores investment and growth to achieve President Mnangagwa’s vision of growing Zimbabwe to upper middle class by
2030, to invest in initiatives for the youths.
Cangrow Trading managing director Ankit Jain, said when Zimbabwe attains the President’s vision of upper middle class economy, consumption of its products
will grow to enable them to create more jobs.
“If you look at the per capita consumption in Zimbabwe in terms of cooking oil, we are among the lowest in the Sadc region; as such it’s only going to rise;
so there is a lot of room for these factories to grow.
“I would like to see my production, if per capita consumption goes up, go down to 25 percent of Zimbabwean demand so we expand again to make it 50 percent;
that is how business cycles go. Businesses grow with growing economies and jobs are created,” Mr Jain said.
He said the edible oil industry, which has invested about US$120 million over the last five years, employs just over 2 000 workers, with about 10 percent of
that number employed at Cangrow Trading (RAHA).–herald.co.zw