Dangote deal pie in the sky

By Tendai Kamhungira

It’s been two years since Africa’s richest man, Nigerian billionaire Alhaji Aliko Dangote, jetted into the country in a highly-publicised investment deal, but nothing has come to fruition.

Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote

The so-called “mega deal” has remained pie-in-the-sky that occasionally pops up in lapdog State media when propaganda mandarins are desperate for a feel-good story.

Since Dangote’s visit into Zimbabwe, nothing has been done to fulfil the deal, with the finer details of the transaction remaining sketchy.

The businessman’s investment deal in Zimbabwe could have been one of the biggest in nearly two decades.

Dangote — with a net worth of $17, 2 billion, according to Forbes Magazine — had plans to invest locally in three sectors —power, energy and cement manufacturing, with claims that he was going to set up a 1, 5 million tonne cement grinding plant in Zimbabwe.

The businessman met President Robert Mugabe and several government ministers during his visit in Zimbabwe.

The Dangote deal was touted as creating thousands of jobs, creating a foreign currency base and spurring economic development.

But Dangote is still to consummate the investment deal after getting approval from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority.

Dangote Group’s chief strategist Abdu Mukhtar visited Zimbabwe in January last year and said they felt “comfortable and excited” about investing in Zimbabwe.

“Everything is on track, we are back and happy,” Mukhtar said.

“We will continue to come back here this year and 2016 is going to be a very active year. We will be coming in and out to do all sort of things as we kick start the projects.”

But that was the last visit.

There are claims that some competitors have been throwing spanners in his works, while some claim Dangote fears losing his investment due to Zimbabwe’s high political risk.

During his stay in the country, Dangote urged the government to relax its stringent visa conditions and improve on the ease of doing business.

Economic analysts have also singled out policy inconsistencies as one of the reasons behind low foreign direct investment inflows into the country.

With 93-year-old President Mugabe in charge, several investors are edgy over the country’s future, fearing a new government could repudiate their deal.

For a while now, the government’s controversial indigenisation policy forcing foreign-owned companies to cede 51 percent of their shares to locals, has spooked investors. Daily News