Botswana’s import bill stood at P66.84 million in 2016 mostly for food items and beverages, imported mainly from South Africa and other countries. This was said by acting Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) Keletsositse Olebile Tuesday during the Botswana/Zimbabwe Business Forum held in Gaborone. Olebile said the country is taking steps to create value chain linkages, especially in the agriculture sector which he said has the potential which could reduce the import bill. The acting CEO told the delegates during the visit by President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa that Botswana provided an easy climate for one to conduct business. Zimbabwe Investment Authority (CEO), Richard Mbaiwa, said there were several opportunities in his country across different sectors of the economy. He said agriculture sector has abundant opportunities as their country is blessed with fertile soils and water bodies. Another sector which he said investors can look at is the mining industry which has over 55 recognised minerals such as diamonds and many others. Manufacturing is said to be one of the sectors which also offer opportunities to investors, according to Mbaiwa. “Zimbabwe is open for investment and seeks serious investment partners. The country offers tremendous opportunities across all sectors of the economy,” he said.
Mbaiwa said in a bid to attract investments in key areas of the economy, they have introduced incentives such as five-year tax holiday for industrial park developers which will go up to 10 percent after the period has elapsed. Other incentives, he said, include duty free importation of ICT equipment, deregulated banking system and also that the country is a signatory to a number of multilateral investment treaties. Earlier on giving a keynote address and officially opening the forum, Mnangagwa said his country is open for business and extended an invitation to business people to come and invest in Zimbabwe. “We are aware of the need to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and we continue to simplify the business environment by removing barriers which are prohibitive of investment,” said Mnangagwa, adding that they are determined to consolidate relations with neighbours. Mnangagwa, who took over last November from long serving President Robert Mugabe, encouraged investors to take advantage of new investor climate in Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe is largely an agro-based country and investors are encouraged to come and invest in those areas,” he said.