Prosper Ndlovu in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
ZIMBABWEANS based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have expressed their readiness to invest at home by tapping into various business opportunities in the local economy.
A proposal has already been put in place to establish the Zimbabwe Dubai Business Council, which will provide a platform for continued engagement on business opportunities between the diaspora and its partners, as well as the government.
The proposed entity is expected to be officially presented to President Mnangagwa, who is due to lead National Day events here on March 14, which will mark the peak of Zimbabwe’s participation in the Expo.
The Asian country has come under increased attention for Zimbabwe as the second largest trading partner with export earnings of around US$1.4 billion by 2020 and being a haven for dozens of qualified expatriates.
Its thriving province of Dubai is home to many Zimbabweans who have set up businesses and hosts the ongoing world-renowned business exhibition – Expo 2020 Dubai, which kicked off last October.
One of the key takeaways from the country’s participation in the expo has been the warming up of the diaspora community here to participate in the mainstream economy, not just as contributors to remittances, but as investors and agents to stimulate economic interest in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Rungano Innocent Nyaude, a Dubai-based financial expert and senior member of the business council initiative, said they were working closely with the Zimbabwe Embassy here and preparations for the launch of the new business advice were at a higher level.
He said that after Expo 2020 Dubai, follow-up engagements would be very important to materialize the positive business leads.
This is one of the reasons why operationalizing the business council will be crucial in facilitating ongoing dialogue and connecting business minds to ensure maximum gains.
“We plan to introduce the business council when we meet His Excellency on March 14 and our preparations are almost 90% complete,” he said.
Mr. Nyaude commended the government for establishing the Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority (ZIDA) as the lead agency to invest in Zimbabwe and unlock its vast opportunities.
He said as a diaspora they were eager to work closely with the investment agency to attract more businesses for the economy.
“In 2021, diaspora remittances stood at $1.4 billion in Zimbabwe and they are our cash cow.
“Yes, foreign direct investment is desirable, but how can we ensure that institutions like ZIDA work with these diasporas to increase their opportunities in their home countries,” Mr. Nyaude said.
Given the successes recorded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, which has been ranked among the best performers in sub-Saharan Africa in terms of US dollar earnings, he said the diaspora is also keen to participate in capital markets opportunities.
Given the vast export opportunities to the UAE, Nyaude said the country’s trade agency, ZimTrade, should partner with diasporas doing business here to promote the flow of goods to these markets.
“The UAE is very open for business and the reason we want to create this business council is actually to introduce some of the Zimbabweans who already own and run businesses here in various sectors,” he said. .
“We are looking at areas related to the digital space, because what Covid-19 has shown is the growth of digital platforms. From a Zimbabwean perspective, we must first identify the areas in which we excel, be it agriculture or mining.
“The UAE is a good hub in these areas. For example, the United Arab Emirates imports more than 80% of its food consumed in this country.
“For Zimbabweans in the food business who are able to add value, this is a good market to target to channel your products.”
Nyaude said Expo 2020 Dubai highlighted the desperate need for business partnerships to make economies stand out.
He said Zimbabwe needed such partnerships and the diaspora was a winning strategy.
“The key to remember is who are your partners in the businesses you do? Your partnerships are going to grow your business,” he said.
“In this environment, you won’t really be able to grow when you operate alone, the value chain is important. Who is your supplier and your consumer and can you connect the dots inside that line? »
Despite the negative impact on all economies, Nyaude said the UAE had shown greater agility in its ability to adapt to the new normal and generate robust growth as it others were having difficulty.
As such, he said Zimbabwe had enough potential to recover quickly by leveraging its strengths and working towards greater diversification to wean itself off dependence on commodity exports.
“So if they (the UAE) are able to pivot on strength, which is oil, and use those gains to boost the other areas, which are non-commercial, pivoting is very important,” said Mr Nyaude.
“Zimbabwe is strong in agriculture and mining and how can we pivot on these to boost our manufacturing? We do it by adding value.
“We don’t need to export our products in the rawest forms, we need to be able to add value and package them.
“We should at least process some of the product we have and when we export, we would have boosted our industry.”