KIGALI: President Emmerson Mnangagwa has made an impassioned plea to his peers on the continent to wake up and create an enabling environment for business to thrive.
Mnangagwa was a panellist at an African business forum in Rwanda where he will also attend and African Union summit.
Responding to questions from participants, the Zimbabwean leader said Africa was almost half a century behind in terms of development.
“I think there has been lack of political will and we are behind,” Mnangagwa said to applause from the audience.
The launch of the African Free Trade Area is, in my opinion, 40 years behind schedule, but I can tell you we are moving forward.
“As Sadc, there is greater integration. The question now is the pace at which we are moving. As far as my country is concerned, things are different. Zimbabwe is open for business.”
He added; “There must be a platform for continuous exchange of ideas between government and the private sector.
“The private sector must tell us what kind of environment they want us to create and we should in turn tell them our expectations. There should be constant dialogue.”
The Zimbabwean leader who has been at pains to woo investors to the country warned that capital is sensitive to environment.
“Capital is very sensitive, it goes where is feels comfortable. Whether the economy is big or small like my country Zimbabwe, we must create an environment where capital feels safe,” the Zanu PF leader facing his first election in a few months said.
He said the launch of the African Free Trade Area agreement is a landmark event in which all 55-member countries can participate in a market of over 1.2 billion people.
“Africa needs clean water and I have no doubt that we have the capacity to provide it. Africa, working together, and cooperating has capacity to secure and guarantee food security.
“Together we can succeed but individually some can develop quicker not because they are privileged but because they are more focused.”