‘We’ll not copy and paste Dubai template’ . . . idea is to ‘leapfrog’ Zim economy

ZIMBABWE will not copy and paste from the Dubai development manual but will instead, use visits and relations with the emirate to “leapfrog” the economy, President Mnangagwa said here yesterday.

The President made the remarks after he visited DP World offices and toured the company’s Jafza Free Zone at Jebel Ali Port.

DP World — the third largest operator in container terminal activities in the world — wants to splash US$4 billion in Africa with the National Railways of Zimbabwe and Air Zimbabwe being targeted by the company for investment.

The company offers logistic, port and terminal services, economic zones, and marine services, while the Jebel Ali Port services a region of over 3.5 billion people and 150 ports worldwide.

After a drive around one of the world’s largest ports, President Mnangagwa said there is no need to follow all the steps Dubai has taken to get to where it is today.

He said he was charmed by how so much land had been reclaimed from the sea, while calling on young people to lead radical innovation in Zimbabwe.

“We don’t need to invest in most of these facilities that are here; we need to leapfrog. They have developed step by step, but we don’t need to follow step by step, we need to leapfrog and access the technology that is existing. That’s how the country will develop.

“Most importantly this was the sea and they have reclaimed it. Look at the facilities that are now here. In Zimbabwe we have land, what we don’t have is people who imagine like they do. Just think of it, we are standing now where formerly it was sea. It was reclaimed but look at the infrastructure that is here,” President Mnangagwa said.

“In our Shona language we say, Chitsva chirimu shoka, new ideas and technologies can only be discovered as you travel. So, I hope my team that I am travelling with are appreciating this technological development.”

Mr Mohammed Akoojee, the chief executive officer and managing director of DP World Sub-Saharan Africa, said they are ready to invest in Zimbabwe’s rail, air and technology sectors.

“One of the big initiatives we are working on with the Government of Zimbabwe is on the logistics strategy and how we can leverage our capabilities, our technologies, our know-how from this facility where we are, into Zimbabwe and our logistics hub into southern Africa.

“We are looking at working with the Government to develop rail, air connectivity, we are looking at logistics warehousing and how we can connect Zimbabwe to key ports in Africa and also connect Zimbabwe with the rest of the world. 

“Zimbabwe as we know is very rich in commodities, in agricultural products and is blessed with natural resources and those resources are consumed all over the world. So, improving the logistics and infrastructure we believe will create a lot of economic growth; create jobs and we as DP World are very proud of this initiative of working with the Zimbabwe Government to develop their infrastructure and logistics sector,” Mr Akoojee said.

He said DP World is not new to Africa where they have a clear track record of investment.

“We invested in many countries in East, West and Southern Africa as well as North Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa we have eight terminals we have invested in, in the last two years. That’s about US$2 billion invested in Africa and we plan to invest another US$4 billion in the future in terms of developing ports, developing logistics, warehousing infrastructure distribution,” Mr Akoojee said.

“We as DP World want to be the gateway to Africa, and we want to connect Africa with the rest of the world as well. Sub-Saharan Africa is a very important region for us, and we see a huge opportunity from a growth point of view, and with our capabilities, we believe we can add a lot of value and partner with Governments and companies that want to operate in Africa.”

President Mnangagwa’s chief advisor on Middle East Affairs, Ambassador Mahomed Jassat, said DP World will soon be investing in the National Railways of Zimbabwe after assessing current infrastructure.

“We initiated this partnership when His Excellency was here at COP28. We decided to further cement the relationship with DP World and have been trying to court the company for the past four years. By the grace of God, we managed to get them into Zimbabwe. 

“They are very active. As we speak, they are on the ground in Zimbabwe. We signed an MOU with the National Railways of Zimbabwe, so they are going to start the financing of the portions that need to be repaired on the railway line,” Ambassador Jassat explained.

He said Air Zimbabwe could also benefit from the partnership and in turn boost the country’s horticulture sector. 

“The other exciting event is that we had three aircraft that were not being used by Air Zimbabwe. DP World has come in and they have taken these aircraft to help start an air cargo service. The main advantage besides Zimbabwe being the main cargo hub is that the planes make our horticulture exports a lot more competitive. We used to compete with Kenya, and we couldn’t really compete not because we couldn’t grow products very well, but because we couldn’t compete in airfreights.

“The other advantage about joining up with Air Zimbabwe is that we can leverage the freight earning against our aircraft. So, people are going to see a major change with what is happening at Air Zimbabwe,” Ambassador Jassat said.


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