Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE curtain comes down on Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today and Zimbabwe, satisfied that major national objectives have been achieved, now expects to reap positive investment and trade outcomes.
For the past six months the country has put up a solid campaign, which has yielded several business deals worth millions of dollars in key sectors while more expressions of interest that require comprehensive follow ups have also been secured.
Led by Zimbabwe Pavilion Commissioner-General, Ambassador Mary Mubi, the country has been exhibiting its unique products and services under the Opportunities Cluster, competing with 191 other states who participated at the global expo.
During the period several investor conferences were hosted, where top industry executives, senior Government figures and economic experts engaged potential suitors and combined their efforts to market Zimbabwe as a favourable investment destination.
President Mnangagwa also visited Dubai and hosted an over-subscribed business conference, engaged the diaspora community and presided over the “National Day” event on March 14, marking the pinnacle of the country’s campaign.
In her closing interview remarks yesterday, Amb Mubi said Zimbabwe scored major milestones during Expo 2020 Dubai, with more lessons for future engagements.
“The expo finally closes tomorrow. It’s been six months of a fairly packed journey. The country had clear objectives, one of which was to re-engage and engage in an effort to be part and parcel of the national programme of re-engagement and engagement,” she said.
“The other objective was to get the interest of investors and also trade, increasing our trade volumes with respect to our products.
“We participated under the Opportunities Cluster because we were very much aware the country has huge potential and incredible opportunities in various sectors.
We needed to use the platform to showcase these to partners across the world because no country can develop as an island.”
Amb Mubi said participating at the global forum was critical under the Second Republic’s drive to realise Vision 2030, which seeks to create an upper middle-income country status.
This drive requires Zimbabwe to strike partnerships hence Expo 2020 offered a good opportunity to tap into crucial trade, investment and innovation networks.
“In coming to the expo and recognising that we had to present ourselves in a very competitive way, we knew we had 192 countries that were competing.
“We wanted to tell a unique story and that story we felt it was rooted in our history the fact that as a people we have a great asset in our human capital, our history, our culture and this gives us confidence to go forward to attain our aspirations in terms of Vision 2030,” said Amb Mubi.
“As a country we were well positioned to be able to do that given our history, our position even within the region. We don’t see ourselves as landlocked but we are land-linked and, therefore, we are all the time making efforts to link with others and this is the story that we were telling others.”
Amb Mubi said Zimbabwe clocked a credible number of visitors to its pavilion, which surpassed 300 000 despite the adverse impact of Covid-19, which frustrated global travel for several months.
She said besides business visitations, whose enquiries were mainly concentrated on mining, agriculture, tourism, health, transport and logistics, among others, the country also attracted scores of leisure seekers or tourists who were excited by the rich cultural heritage and artistic talent.
“We created a number of platforms where we could showcase the available opportunities, not forgetting that Zimbabwe has a very strong cultural traditions and arts and craft,” she said.
“So, we used the six months very well in order to showcase the variety of opportunities that are found in Zimbabwe. We believe that going forward our embassy in the UAE has increased interest from investors and we were able to communicate these to be requisite institutions at home so that they could respond appropriately.”
Amb Mubi said massive interest shown in Zimbabwe at the expo demands strong follow up efforts so as to consolidate the deals secured and bringing to fruition pending expressions of interest.
“We should continue this marketing because marketing is not a one-day event but requires continuous focus. So, we need to keep on coming to the market and showcasing the products that we have and also finding ways of describing them in a way that appeals to the taste of consumers in various markets,” she said.
“The UAE and the surrounding region are a growing market. It’s a huge market for horticultural products, for our minerals and we can also learn many things like the concept of smart cities and innovations.
“I believe that some of the on-going discussions will strengthen the partnerships between our institutions, local authorities and also business to business.
“We are very hopeful and confident that a number of businesses found partners during the six months as we tried to showcase the variety of opportunities available in the country.”
As the expo closes today, Amb Mubi expressed confidence that the country’s team “lived up to expectation” despite earlier setbacks by Covid-19 travel restrictions.
She said Zimbabwe comes out of the expo better equipped with latest global business trends, strong business links and exposure, among many valuable takeaways that would be used to transform the country’s economy.
“Yes, there are many lessons to be learnt. These lessons are the ones we are narrating so that as we prepare for the next expo, the next team will benefit from the insights gathered,” she said.
“This is a digital age, we need to showcase our materials in a digital convenience. We certainly have a lot of recommendations to be taken on board as the team starts building towards the next expo.”
Article Source: The Chronicle