THE United States has intensified its interest in Zimbabwe’s tourism sector and lithium mining as the global race for renewable energy gains momentum.
This is despite the uneasy diplomatic relations between Harare and Washington DC, statistics from the local investment promotion agency have shown.
Tafadzwa Chinamo, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida) chief executive, said while investors were reticent before the 23 August general elections, the third quarter ending September recorded the highest number of investor interest compared to preceding quarters.
Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe and the US hit rock bottom when the southern African nation was slapped with economic sanctions on allegations of electoral fraud, failure to observe the rule of law and violating property and human rights.
Harare dismisses the claims, saying the restrictions were triggered by the land reform programme which saw over 4 000 white former commercial farmers losing vast tracts of land to locals.
Statistics from Zida show that the agency issued investment licences totalling US$2 million during the third quarter of the year compared to none during the same comparative period last year
“America is a huge economy and it would be remiss to conclude that they all think alike,” Chinamo said in an interview with The NewsHawks.
“They have always been investing here for years. I think tourism, they have an interest there and renewable energy and to some extent minerals such as platinum and so forth. I think maybe it’s the arms race to self-sufficiency in energy and not relying on other countries which are driving investment. With minerals like lithium, you have to go where that ore is found.”
According to Zida, at licensing, the energy sector registered the highest projected investment value at USD$2.8 billion with six new licences being issued during the quarter.
The mining sector was second with a projected investment value of USD$411.97 million, with 86 new licences issued.
“Overall, the third quarter recorded a 12.5 % increase over the second quarter in the number of investor licences issued by the agency,” Chinamo says.
During the year to September 2023, Zida managed to draw investors from 38 countries whilst in 2022 investors were drawn from 27 countries.
During both periods, investors from China were dominant by number and investment value, with mining being their most preferred sector followed by the manufacturing sector.