Harare – Zimbabweans have taken to social media to express mixed views following indications by Aliko Dangote that he plans to invest in the southern African country.
Dangote, who is considered Africa’s richest man, said on Monday he planned mining and power generation projects for investment-starved Zimbabwe, as well as to set up a large cement factory.
This came after he met President Robert Mugabe in Harare.
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"We had a very, very good meeting with the president and I told him we have already decided to invest in three areas. One is power, second one is cement and third one is coal," Dangote was quoted as saying.
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, Dangote was ready to pour billions of dollars into the country.
The billionaire said he would spend close to $400m on the cement plant, which will produce 1.5 million tons of cement a year, making it the biggest in the country.
Controversial indigenisation law
Social media went abuzz following Dangote's announcement, with some expressing doubt on whether the plan would be fruitful amid Zimbabwe’s controversial 2007 indigenisation law which states that foreign firms operating in the country must hand a 51% shareholding to local partners to reverse imbalances which resulted from colonialism.
Former education minister David Coltart tweeted: "Wonder what Aliko Dangote thinks about the 51% local ownership requirement of the Indigenisation Act? I suspect he wont be 2 impressed by it."
Zanu-PF’s deputy director of information, Psychology Maziwisa, however expressed optimism that the move would help grow Zimbabwe’s economy and create jobs.
He posted on his Facebook page:"Zimbabwe is on the move. Yesterday, Africa's richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, pledged to invest billions of dollars in Zimbabwe in the coming months on power generation, cement production and coal mining.
"This is a timely and welcome intervention that will help grow the Zimbabwean economy and create the jobs we need.
"And it comes barely days after President Mugabe made a commitment to lure massive foreign direct investment during his state of the nation address."
Others also tweeted:
Dangote is the head and founder of the multi-billion dollar Dangote Group, whose interests include cement production in several African countries.
The company also has major oil, gas, food and real estate investments across the continent.
Zimbabwe's economy has largely collapsed since Mugabe's land reforms of 2000, which broke the country's agricultural backbone.
Many companies have closed, downsized or relocated.
The International Monetary Fund said this year Zimbabwe's economic prospects looked "difficult", with growth falling again after a brief improvement, according to reports.