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Zimbabwe Approved Business Plans Worth US$6.6 Billion in 2011

Economic Planning Minister Tapuwa Mashakada said foreign investors are discouraged by policy inconsistencies, especially indigenization which obliges foreign firms to put a 51 percent stake in black hands

The Zimbabwe Investment Authority last year approved projects worth almost US$7 billion with most investors flocking to the mining and tourism sectors.

But economists said only 10 percent of the US$6.6 billion trickled into the country due to fears over the indigenization program.

The independent Newsday newspaper quoted Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister Tapuwa Mashakada as saying projects worth US$3.68 billion were targeted for mining, US$1.58 billion in tourism and US$445 million in agriculture.

Business plans worth US$250 million were approved for the construction and manufacturing sectors.

Mashakada said most foreign investors were discouraged by policy inconsistencies in Zimbabwe, especially the indigenization or economic empowerment program which obliges foreign firms to put a 51 percent stake in black local hands.

Mashakada said the government should repackage the indigenization regulations and implement key political and electoral reforms to boost investor confidence.

Independent economist Eric Bloch said the approvals numbers are misleading. “People have applied for approval and now they are waiting to see what is going to happen with indigenization and political instability before sending the funds in,” Bloch said.

Projects worth US$2.2 billion were approved in 2010 but only US$250 million came in.

Bloch said Zimbabwe is unlikely to record significant economic growth before the country holds general and presidential elections which have not been scheduled.