A three-member delegation from one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world, DP World owned by the government of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who are in Zimbabwe to set up logistics projects and a dry port, yesterday met President Mnangagwa.
This becomes the second delegation of high profile investors to visit Zimbabwe after a team led by billionaire, Mr Shaji Ul Mulk from the UAE.
The Government has already approved the setting up of US$1 billion worth of projects by Mulk Holdings International FZC, in a development that is in line with the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” drive.
The DP World delegation expressed interest in creating a new service and product for the country meant for the global market.
Their visit comes after Government in October last year partnered DP World officials in Dubai as it continues strengthening cooperation in infrastructure development which includes the refurbishment of roads, railways, tolling, airports and inland marine business opportunities.
DP World is under the direct control of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, who is also Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE.
It is one of the largest marine terminal operators in the world, with over 50 terminals and 12 new developments across 32 countries. Dubai is the major port of the UAE.
The three-member delegation are DP World chief executive officer and managing director for Middle East and Africa Mr Suhail Albanna, CEO for Middle East and Africa region Mr Sumeet Bhardwaj and another DP World CEO Mr Christian Roeder.
The delegation was in the company of Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona and National Railways of Zimbabwe board chairperson Advocate Martin Dinha when they met President Mnangagwa at State House yesterday morning.
In an interview after the meeting, Mr Albanna said they wanted to create a new trade corridor for Zimbabwe to import and export its goods through Maputo in Mozambique.
There is a railway line to Maputo but considerable work and upgrade needs to be done on this line.
DP World started venturing into Africa about 20 years ago and they have ports in nine countries, logistics facilities and free zones.
“We recently acquired a logistics company called Imperial Logistic which is South Africa based and they are operating in over 22 countries in Africa. One of the countries we see potential is Zimbabwe. So we want to create more competitive trade routes for the country so that the cost and the efficiency of the supply chain will be more effective for traders, importers and exporters. Currently the country has two gateways, that is Beira in Mozambique and Durban.
“And also to give a chance for the farming products to be exported in a very competitive way. So our meeting with the President was to express our interest to invest in logistics in rail, in economic zones where we can create a new service and product for the country for the global market,” he said.
Mr Albanna added that wherever they go they always want to create a competitive market for the investors in those countries to be able to compete globally.
“From that perspective we have agreed with the President that we want to start logistic operations and a dry port as soon as possible. Now our next step is to identify the right location, that would be basically the starting point and we will have many other logistic projects and economic zone projects in the future. So our plan is to invest in the areas that the country needs more supply chain projects products,” he said.
By end of this week the delegation would have a good solid idea on which location was best for investment.
“I am very much impressed with the quality and service level of the country. We see a lot of potential in terms of growth and there are a lot of opportunities in farming, minerals and manufacturing and we can enhance the value chain of the producers who are producing these goods,” said Mr Albanna.
Minister Mhona said: “I am happy today we managed to receive a delegation from DP World together with my team at NRZ where we had the opportunity to then meet with His Excellency Dr Mnangagwa and as we say he is a listening President, having afforded us a meeting at short notice.”
In October last year in UAE, Zimbabwean officials were hosted by officials from the DP World and they also had an opportunity to tour their ports and special economic zones.
Minister Mhona said during that time they also managed to sign a memorandum of understanding between NRZ and DP World, to find common ground where they can explore in terms of logistic issues, in order to resuscitate the NRZ, which has been a topical issue within the ministry.
He was happy that DP World was now serious to implement the projects in the country and that this was the beginning of greater things.
NRZ board chairperson Advocate Martin Dinha said he was excited about the visit by DP world and the general positive interest about investors in NRZ.
He said he was also grateful of the Government support for NRZ’s turnaround strategy.
In October last year, a Zimbabwean delegation led by Minister Mhona held a bilateral meeting with Mr Suhail Albanna in Dubai.
The Government of Zimbabwe, said Minister Mhona, was committed to supporting and facilitating any partnership between DP World and its parastatals and State enterprises in infrastructure business, especially railways and the National Handling Services.
He said President Mnangagwa had given them the greenlight to engage with them on a win-win and mutually beneficial basis, to make good and strengthen the bilateral ties which exist between the two sister countries.
Minister Mhona said one of the key pillars and enablers of economic transformation in Zimbabwe was the transport and transport infrastructure sector, which was showing a lot of potential at a time Government was working on various infrastructural projects such as roads rehabilitation and widening, particularly along the North-South corridor of Beitbridge-Harare-Chirundu and Beitbridge-Victoria Falls.