Darlington Musarurwa in MAPUTO, Mozambique and Joseph Madzimure in HARARE
President Mnangagwa yesterday arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, for the 12th edition of the US-Africa Business Summit, which provides Zimbabwe a platform to engage with United States of America and African private sector executives, international investors and multilateral stakeholders.
He was met at Maputo International Airport by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the US Amon Mutembwa and Zimbabwe’s envoy to Mozambique Major-General Nicholas Dube, representatives from the host government and senior embassy officials.
President Mnangagwa’s administration is heightening efforts to engage and re-engage bilateral and multilateral partners in order to integrate the country into the global family of nations and open up the country for more investment after two decades of isolation.
In an interview before leaving Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo said the summit is expected to witness the launch of a US$60 billion facility aimed at developing Africa.
“As you can recall, there has been quite some development on major powers, starting with Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) in China, which committed to invest US$60 billion towards the development of Africa,” he said.
“The USA has also launched its own US-Africa Business Summit which it expects to launch a US$60 billion facility for Africa and this is why His Excellency President Mnangagwa is going to Mozambique, but at the invitation of his Mozambique counterpart.”
Dr Moyo said the US$60 billion would help the African private sector “to support itself”.
President Mnangagwa will join 10 other Heads of State and Government from across the continent who are penciled in as guest speakers.
The four-day event is being jointly hosted by Mozambique and Corporate Council on Africa (CCA).
CCA is a Washington-based business association that promotes business and investment opportunities between the US and Africa.
More than 1 000 high-level business executives will be in attendance.
Most importantly, the summit provides participants with the opportunity to scout for investments in multiple sectors such as agribusiness, energy, health, infrastructure, ICT and finance, among others.
In addition to providing scope to network with key private sector and government decision-makers, the summit is also a platform to advocate for effective US trade and investment policies.
A major discussion on post-Cyclone Idai reconstruction and private sector engagement will be held today.
Trade between Zimbabwe and the US has been progressively growing over the past two years.
Official statistics from the US Census Bureau indicate that Zimbabwe exported more than US$75 million worth of goods to Washington last year, representing a 60 percent jump from the US$47 million realised in 2017.
Imports from the US dropped 16 percent to US$33,7 million from US$33,9 million in the same period.
Overall, the country had a positive trade balance of US$41,3 million in 2018.
The same trend has spilled into the new year, with exports in the January to April period topping US$17,9 million against imports which stood at US$13,2 million. It is believed that there is potential to exponentially increase trade relations between the two countries if Washington removes the nearly two-decades old sanctions against Harare.
Washington is presently seeking a foothold in Africa — home to some one billion people — for its products as it targets to further grow its US$19 trillion economy.
The ten Heads of State and Government who will join President Mnangagwa at the multi-day event include host President Filipe Nyusi, President Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Hage Geingob (Namibia), Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Peter Mutharika (Malawi), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), King Mswati III (Eswatini), Jose Mario Vaz (Guinea-Bissau), Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
Among senior Washington administration officials at the indaba are Tibor Nagy, US assistant secretary (bureau of Africa affairs at the US department of state); and Seward Jones, deputy assistant secretary (Middle East and Africa at the department of commerce).
General Electric (Africa) CEO Farid Fezoua and IMF executive director Erik Bethel also form part of the line-up.
President Mnangagwa is accompanied by Ministers Dr Moyo, July Moyo (Local Government, Public Works and National Housing), Professor Mthuli Ncube (Finance and Economic Development), Joel Matiza (Transport and Infrastructure Development) and Mangaliso Ndlovu (Industry and Commerce).
He was seen off at the RGM International Airport by Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, service chiefs and other senior Government officials.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is the Acting President.