THE ZIMBABWE National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Matabeleland chapter has lined up a conference early next year expected to draw delegates from over 18 African countries as part of efforts to improve investment in the southern parts of the region.
The trade and investment conference, dubbed “Opportunities in Africa and the Rest of the World”, is scheduled for February 12-13 2014 in Bulawayo.
Ambassadors and envoys from 18 African countries and international financial institutions, including the Africa Development Bank and Industrial Development of Bank of South Africa would grace the conference, officials said.
“The conference is a follow-up to the inaugural seminar which was held in October 2011 which marked the initiation of trade dissemination platforms and trade linkages between businesses in Matabeleland region and the rest of the world,” part of a statement from the ZNCC reads.
ZNCC documents showed that the conference would also host an exhibition for local and regional companies from the African chambers of commerce and industries across the globe.
The first day of the conference will see delegates touring various companies in Bulawayo and Matabeleland.
The continental conference comes as Bulawayo faces serious deindustrliasation after 100 companies closed shop last year while 64 companies are reported to be on the verge of collapse largely due to shortage of working capital.
The city needs an estimated $400 million investment in the short term and close to $1 billion in the long term to fully recapitalise.
The indigenisation law which calls for foreign firms to cede 51% of their shareholding to locals has been blamed for scaring away investment.
In a paper presented at an ambassadors’ meeting held in Harare last week, the business lobby group said despite policy inconsistencies, the Matabeleland region had vast investment opportunities in the sectors of water, energy, manufacturing sector, tourism and agriculture.
“Cattle ranching is one of the region’s biggest investment areas, with downstream beneficiaries which include tanneries, meat processing industries, leather and footware, abattoirs and related infrastructure,” ZNCC added.
ZNCC said there was an opportunity to set up private power plants due to the close proximity of coal, while the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) — headquartered in Bulawayo — was a potential investment option.
NRZ requires close to $2 billion to fully recapitalise as the State enterprise is on its knees battling with dilapidated infrastructure and huge debts which have seen the institution struggling to secure funding.
However, Transport minister Obert Mpofu recently pledged to ensure the recapitalisation of the entity.
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