Zimbabwean economy primed for growth

Marc Holtzman, chairman of CBZ Holdings
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HARARE – Zimbabwe’s economy is now primed to register faster and sustained growth despite constraints from western economic embargoes, exclusion from international lenders and the adverse effects of Covid-19, a top banking sector executive has said.

This was said by Marck Holtzman, the chairman of CBZ Holdings and Bank of Kigali in Rwanda at the on-going Zimbabwe-Rwanda Trade and Investment Conference.

Mr Holtzman noted that Zimbabwe had endured and thrived under the worst economic conditions, an important lesson Rwanda could take a leaf from.

“In spite of sanctions, a lot of headwinds and challenges and isolation from international financiers, Zimbabwe’s economy is now ready to roll,” he said.

The conference running under the theme “Explore, Invest and Export” is a reciprocal visit by Rwanda’s delegation after officials from Zimbabwe attended a similar event in Rwanda in September last year to explore trade opportunities in the East African country, as the two seek to widen economic ties.

Zimbabwe’s economy is this year projected to grow by 5,5 percent anchored by agriculture, increased mining, Government construction projects and firming commodity prices as well as increasing exports.

Mr Holtzman said as a result of the Government’s progressive integrated approach, Zimbabweans with various sought after skills and knowledge had returned in large numbers.

“If you look at CBZ Holdings, it has been represented in that regard. Rwanda has also done the same on attracting back its skills into the various sectors of the economy,” he said.

Mr Holtzman said in the agriculture sector, CBZ Holdings took over the Government programme, widely known as Command Agriculture and transformed it into a commercially viable and effective programme named CBZ-Agro-Yield.

“It is also known as smart agriculture and has been effective. Last year alone, Zimbabwe became a net exporter of grain in more than seven years,” he said.

The CBZ Agro-Yield was previously 100 percent Government administered, but its effectiveness was hampered by abuse by beneficiaries.

CBZ has since invested in technologies that can monitor exactly what happens on farms of beneficiaries to eliminate risk of marketing of contracted crops financed under the scheme.

Mr Holtzman said he has had 25 years experience working in emerging markets and the biggest challenge he had observed pertained to limited access to capital.

Rwanda Energy group chief executive officer Mr Ron Weiss said there were several options for cooperation in the energy sector between Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

He said the energy sector will always have potential for growth given that it normally transforms in tandem with the level of economic growth in any country.

“For instance in Rwanda, the economy is growing at an average of 8 to 9 percent per year and this implies an increase in energy demand,” he said.

He noted that there was a lot of cooperation between Rwanda and Zimbabwe in the energy sector following the signing of an agreement this week for the supply of transformers from Zimbabwe to Rwanda.

“This is in line with our goal to achieve universal access to energy in Rwanda by 2024 and we have already reached 70 percent of that.

“Therefore, we need a lot of transformers to connect those who are yet to be connected because we want to achieve our goal,” he said.

Mr Weiss said in addition to the transformer deal, other agreements were made on the supply of smart meters, installation of solar power plants and maintenance.

According to the National Export Strategy for Zimbabwe, one of the key deliverables is to diversify exports.

The National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) also targets to grow exports by 10 percent every year up to 2023.

According to ZimTrade, the country’s national trade promotion body, last year the country managed 13 percent export growth which is above the 10 percent. – Herald