Zim placed on African risk analysts watch list

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<strong>HARARE</strong> - Zimbabwe has been ranked among the most promising economies in Africa due to the political transition currently taking place.</p>

Risk analysts who attended a forum on investment risks in Africa in Côte d’Ivoire last week, which was hosted by the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), said Zimbabwe was one of the countries to watch out for this year.

“Risk analysis experts at the conference cited Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe as countries to watch in the coming months based on strong reserves in Botswana, political transitions in the case of Ethiopia and Zimbabwe,” ATI said in a report released on Friday.

“One of our roles at ATI is to educate governments to make them aware of the elements that international investors consider in their assessment of country risks,” commented John Lentaigne, ATI’s chief underwriting officer.

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Investment bank Exotix Limited director Stuart Culverhouse said the country — once known as the “breadbasket of Africa” — may once again have a chance at genuine economic growth after decades of decline.

“If we see it put on a better trajectory, there’s huge potential in Zimbabwe,” he said.

Zimbabwe was a significant agricultural exporter up until 2000, when former president Robert Mugabe encouraged the violent seizure of white-owned farms, triggering food production shortages and widespread famine.

Now, over half of the country’s irrigable land — once lush with maize, cotton, tobacco, roses and sugarcane — is underutilised due to poorly-managed agricultural reforms, according to a 2016 report by Zimbabwe’s auditor general.

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The nation also has the world’s third largest reserves of platinum, the precious metal used in electronic and medical equipment, and is the fifth-largest producer of lithium, essential for rechargeable batteries.

With the mounting global demand for smartphones and electric cars, Zimbabwe is attracting increasing interest from mining companies.

Zimbabwe, which will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on July 30, where President Emmerson Mnangagwa will battle it out with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa for the top post, is expected to significantly recover this year following the ouster of Mugabe last November who presided over the country’s economic collapse.

Mnangagwa and Chamisa, are both campaigning on a pledge to revive an economy crippled by a legacy of often violent seizures of land from white commercial farmers and a black economic empowerment drive that targeted foreign-owned businesses.

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Those policies were cornerstones of Mugabe’s near four-decade rule, which ended in November after a de facto military coup that transferred power to 75-year-old Mnangagwa, his loyal acolyte for nearly 50 years.

The ruling Zanu PF says Zimbabwe is at a critical stage of transition requiring an experienced politician like Mnangagwa.

Western governments and investors will be closely watching the July 30 presidential and parliamentary ballots, for which monitors got clearance to deploy for the first time since 2002.

— The Financial Gazette
 

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