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Events of Ambassador

Opening Remarks at Business Breakfast Meeting on 18th December 2017


I am delighted that we could organise this business breakfast meeting at a time when welcome changes are taking place in Zimbabwe. This event is organised with an objective to align India’s business relation with Zimbabwe with the vision statement set out by the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe His Excellency ED Mnangagwa in his inaugural speech and the provisions in the budget presentation by Hon’ble Finance Minister towards achieving that vision. This finds resonance with what India is also undertaking under the leadership of my Prime Minister under various slogans including Team India, Make in India, stand up India, Start up India and Skill India.  The two countries have a huge young population who are creative and innovative.

We are excited to be a part of the process of Zimbabwe forging deeper bilateral and economic cooperation with friendly nations across the world and re-engaging with other countries which have been hesitant to do so till today. Needless to say, India and Zimbabwe enjoy deep historical relations and we continue to enjoy a very cordial relationship. And we wish to not only continue but intensify this relationship.

I am happy to inform you all that Embassy of India has been awarded 2nd runners up by ZIA for investment in Zimbabwe for the period 2016-17. This is a clear indication that through the difficult times, India and its business people have been always making efforts to cooperate and support the business in Zimbabwe. This is despite some difficulty we face in the current visa regime towards India and its business. Our appeal for granting easier multiple entry business visa and to upgrade from category ‘C’ to ‘B’ have been pending for a long time now. Let me take advantage of the presence of several Hon’ble Ministers and appeal to you all to look into this issue on urgent basis.

Hon’ble Ministers, Ladies and gentlemen, let me enumerate some potential areas of cooperation from my side in terms of what i think India’s partnership with Zimbabwe can bring mutual benefits to the two countries. First is Government to Government cooperation. This includes grant projects, Buyers credit (BC) and Line of credit (LOC) projects. There are few projects under implementation under the above three categories. In 2015, during the India- Africa Summit in New Delhi, my Prime Minister announced $ 10 billion LOC for African Countries. This fund, unfortunately, remains under-utilised for some reason (which i would like to discuss with Hon’ble Ministers) which can be easily corrected. In the last one year, i have been pushing for viable project proposals. Till now i have received one and that is already under consideration by GOI.  There are again some issues with Buyers Credit (Amb Ranga is fully aware). This also needs to be discussed.

Let me quickly come to business cooperation.

SME/Manufacturing Sector: Given that SME sector contributes hugely to the GDP of the two countries, efforts are being made to intensify cooperation in this sector.  There have been verbal request for experts from India to assist SME Ministry. This has been sounded out to relevant agency in India and they are happy to consider this proposal. Manufacturing growth projection for 2018 is 1.1%. I think this presents an opportunity for deeper and wider cooperation among small and medium enterprises to resuscitate the units which are operating much below its optimal levels. May be twining of city of Bulawayo with an industrial city in India may generate interest for investment and business collaboration among other efforts.

Agriculture and Rural Development: Though India is food self sufficient country, we do import huge amount of agriculture products such as lentils, oilseeds etc. We will need therefore cooperation in terms of possible agricultural land on lease to cultivate these products or to lift from the products produced by the Zimbabwean farmers. India also produce reasonably good agro based machineries such as tractors, irrigation pumps etc. In my interaction with some Ministers, they have mentioned that they have acquired some brand of tractors from India which are still in working condition even after 15 years of service. What disappointed me was that some other similar products from other country much higher price (almost double the price) was preferred over these products $17,000 (Amb Ranga is fully aware of this). I would like to appeal for level playing field for such products in your transactions. There are also other agriculture inputs which could be sourced from India at a much lower price (such as pesticides).  We are also ready to support this sector by deputing experts for short term period.

Health Sector: We have been working hard to have PPP model in this sector. There are interested parties in India who we have convinced to partner with local stake holders. I would like to appeal Hon’ble Minister of Health and Child care to consider expediting this process. The objective is to run a hospital in Harare or in Bulawayo with same level of expertise as in India to provide tertiary health care system so that there will be no need for patients from Zimbabwe to go to India for such services. With such facilities available in Zimbabwe we clearly envisage inverse/reverse medical tourism coming from Zimbabwe’s neighbouring countries. I would also like to appeal for lifting the ban on 23 Pharmaceutical products for import for the benefits of the people.  There is huge potential for collaboration for manufacture of medical equipments. There has been also proposal for cooperation in the area of Traditional Medicine which is emerging as an important alternative/preventive health care system in India.

Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security: This is another potential area of cooperation both at Government and well as at business level. The sectors this cooperation can service include Banking (Financial), Education, Health. Another potential area under this is BPO (Call Centres). Zimbabwe has the advantage of being English speaking country. As you know that India also excels in space technology, i am thinking aloud, if there can be possibility of leasing capacity in Indian satellite and name the beam ZimSat. If your requirements are too small for these arrangements, Zimbabwe can initiate a grouping of countries such as SADC etc. to lease beams from such satellite from India.   This of course is a longer term project as the existing satellite in India are being optimally utilised. This will lower cost and have greater control over cyber security. I am just provoking thoughts. I have not consulted my Government on this.

Mines and Mining Development: India will also be interested in the mining cooperation. I am happy that the GOZ has reviewed the Indigenisation law and now confining the 51/49 to only diamond and platinum. I am aware of the collapse of the ZISCO deal with Essar Company of India. Can GOZ re-consider the deal not necessarily with Essar but other interested Indian group? The recent Bellasore Group deal with Zim Alloy is a welcome development. Could the deal be also extended to Zimasco? I find a happy complementarily between Buy Zimbabwe and make in India. Optimal utilisation of your mining wealth can complement India’s requirements for our industries including defence industry which has now been opened up for foreign investor’s participation.

Besides mining business, there is also a huge potential for cooperation and benefiting from the value chain of the high value minerals such as diamond and other precious stones. India is a frontrunner with a share of 62% of the world diamond polished market by value, 82% by volume (carats) and 95% in terms of number of pieces. But non-of these stones cut and polished in India come directly from Zimbabwe. We can collaborate in the beneficiation of these precious stones both at Govt as well as private levels. A draft MOU proposed by Ministry of Mines for cooperation in this area has been responded to positively by us. We await to take the cooperation forward. Appropriate mining machineries are also available in India at reasonable price.

Power and Energy sector: This is the sector where we are already doing much work. Bulawayo Thermal Plant, Teka Pumping Station and a new proposal of up-gradation of Hwange Power plant. In the area of renewable energy, following Paris agreement, India and France lead the International Solar Alliance (ISA) campaign. Nearly 50 countries have signed the framework agreement and more than 20 countries have ratified it enabling ISA to come into force. The detail documents (containg objectives and benefits) have been provided to GOZ with an appeal to join the movement. GOI has also stated that of the $ 10 billion announced for Africa, 20% will be earmarked for solar related projects. This is a benefit beside provision envisaged under ISA. I appeal to the GOZ to consider signing the Framework agreement and participate in the first meeting of the group early next year. At the private level, there is interest in investing in solar projects. Such interest will be brought to the attention of the relevant authority very soon.

I have listed out the possible areas/ sectors where India will be willing to cooperate. Now I welcome any suggestion where you think India and Zimbabwe can cooperate both at Government and Business levels, be it supply, sourcing, joint venture, partnership, collaboration etc.

Other potential areas of cooperation are Education, Tourism, Transport and Infrastructure.

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