US investors becoming more open to the idea of investing in Zimbabwe

The investment case for Zimbabwe finds an increasingly receptive audience among US corporates. Most US companies with African links that have not already explored Zimbabwean opportunities are planning to review their previous ‘hands-off’ stance on the country.

That’s the feedback from pan-African financial services group Imara after face-to-face meetings with US corporate executives in Washington at the recent US-Africa Business Summit staged by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).

Imara Zimbabwe equity fund manager Grant Flanagan noted: “We presented a comprehensive investment case during one of the summit’s country-specific forums and then obtained one-on-one feedback from US executives.”

“We had already detected that underlying US sentiment was becoming more receptive. So, in addition to the general case for Zimbabwe as a high-potential investment destination, we concentrated on removing obstacles to definite commitment by clearing up misconceptions and showing potential investors how to do business in Zimbabwe,” said Flanagan.

He added: “Several key messages made obvious impact, including Zimbabwe’s potential as a platinum producer and sustained recovery by the agricultural sector. The tobacco crop, down at 56,000 tonnes in 2009 was back up to 122,000 tonnes last year. Cotton was up from 207,000 tonnes to 281,000 tonnes over the same period.”

“Gold output is expected to reach 13,000 kg in 2011, up from 5,000 kg in 2009. Domestic demand is also rising. Beer output at SABMiller subsidiary Delta is up dramatically and ahead of record levels achieved in 1998.”

“Positive impact was understandable as this was the first time in a decade that US executives were exposed to first hand experiences from corporate Zimbabwe rather than just the usual negative press headlines.”

“Response inside the Zimbabwe forum and in later contacts with potential investors was encouraging.”