Zimbabwe’s foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows last year more than doubled to US$387 million from US$166 million in 2010, according to the United Nations Development Programme World Investment Report 2012.
The theme of the report for 2012 is “Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies”.
Although the FDI inflows more than doubled during the period under review, it is still low compared with other countries in the region.
Mozambique, for instance, registered FDI inflows of over US$2 billion.
The Southern African region registered FDI inflows of US$6.3 billion, while the continent’s stood at US$42.6 billion.
According to the World Bank Doing Business Report 2012, Zimbabwe still faces challenges in respect of starting new businesses, dealing with licences and permits, getting credit, protecting investors and paying taxes are among stumbling blocks for attracting new FDI.
The Government has been trying to improve the investment climate destination by, among other measures, setting up the Zimbabwe Investment Authority One-Stop Shop.
The main objective was to simplify and shorten procedures and guidelines for issuance of business approvals, permits and authorisations, reducing time and transaction costs of doing business and eliminating the multiple agencies to be dealt with.
But despite the launch of the OSS by ZIA in 2010, Zimbabwe has not eased significantly the process of starting a business.
But observers believe that it would take up to 18 months for the law to be in place which would reduce the number of days it takes to register a new business from the current 49 days to five working days.
Speaking at the launch, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Deputy Minister Samuel Undenge said Government had begun a review of the legislative framework around the investment environment in a move that would also see the effective working of the OSS.
“Government is in the process of reviewing the ZIA Act. The new Act will effectively reduce the number of days from the current 49 to five days, which is stated as one of the major objectives of the One-Stop Shop,” he said.
Meanwhile, UNDP economics advisor Mr James Wakiaga has urged the Government to take advantage of the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s Investment Policy Framework.
“In the backdrop of social and environmental concerns taking centre stage, policymakers are beginning to reflect on an emerging new development paradigm that places inclusive and sustainable development goals on the same footing as economic growth.
“Although these concepts are not new, by themselves, to date, have not been systematically integrated in mainstream investment policymaking. We therefore welcome Unctad’s comprehensive Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development, which seeks to address this challenge,” he said.
Deputy Minister Undenge said amendment of the ZIA Act would see the country setting up “special economic zones” modelled along those in the BRICS countries.
“Through this piece of legislation, the ministry seeks to introduce special economic zones in a bid to attract investment into the priority sectors of the economy,” he said.
“This is in line with international best practices as these special economic zones exist in most of the successful economies such as China, Brazil and South Africa.”
Zimbabwe will need to expedite the improvement of its Doing Business environment as FDI inflows into Africa and the least developed countries declined for the third year running.