Government will not cancel Aliko Dangote’s investment licence but will wait to hear from the firm, which reportedly remains keen to investing in Zimbabwe.
This comes as the prescribed two years — which investors can hold on to an investment licence before implementing their projects — have since elapsed.
Africa’s richest man Dangote, whose net worth was put at $12,2 billion by Forbes Magazine last year, got investment licences for three projects worth a combined $1,2 billion from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) in October 2015.
This means the investment licenses — which cover a cement manufacturing plant, a coal mining venture and a thermal power plant — elapsed in October last year.
But ZIA chief executive officer Richard Mbaiwa told Business Weekly recently that they remain convinced that Dangote, who fronts the Dangote Group, is keen to see through his proposed businesses in the country.
“The last time I spoke to him (Dangote), there is nothing that has changed. He is one of the investors or licensed projects (we have) and it’s just two years now since it was done.
“So we will continue to engage them and find out (the latest developments) but we still hope that their projects would be consummated,” said Mbaiwa.
Quizzed if that would not be tantamount to being held to ransom by potential investors, Mbaiwa said while it is true that investment licences are issued out for two years, they are not necessarily cancelled at the expiry of the tenure.
He said ZIA allows licenced firms to come back to them with an update over their projects before extending the licences or withdrawing them in the event they are unable to consummate them.
“No, we don’t cancel a licence. We wait for them to come back to us and if they are still interested they can renew it (but) if they are not, they can just keep quiet.
“But if they come back with a letter and say they want to do their projects, we will talk to them. They can even come back after three years and say, ‘that investment (project) you licensed, we want to renew it, we want to engage’, for whatever reasons, maybe circumstances have changed or they have got renewed interests or a lot of dynamics have happened.
“We do not necessarily cancel investment licences but when we issue an investment licence, it has got a timeframe, which is a two-year time-frame,” Mbaiwa said.
Business Weekly could not obtain a comment from Dangote on the latest regards his proposed investments in Zimbabwe.
However, it is understood that Dangote himself, or a top representative from his company, would visit the country in the first week of March for an investment conference being organised by Josey Mahachi-Agbeniyi.
Mahachi-Agbeniyi is the one who brought Dangote into the country in 2015 before he committed to the deals.
It is unclear if the Dangote Group would take advantage of the investment conference to renew its interest in investing in Zimbabwe, and/ or tying all loose ends of the projects.
The Dangote Group has interests in logistics, manufacturing and power generation and has multi-million dollar operations in Zambia, Congo and Cameroon, among other countries.
Dangote’s projects were synergised in such a manner that the cement business would access electricity from the envisaged 600 megawatts thermal power station.
The move would have ensured uninterrupted power supplies to the cement business.
Business Weekly recently reported that while Dangote remains keen to consummate his projects, he has been raising some issues pertaining to resources, especially limestone.
It is understood that Dangote reportedly wants limestone deposits of good quality which have a longer mine life.
Limestone is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of cement.
But sources say the areas with limestone deposits that Dangote wanted have since been taken by other people who now want to profiteer and sell them to him at a premium.
Dangote is understood to be digging in, and is refusing to pay a premium, stalling the deal.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is now believed to seized with the issue to ensure the Dangote Group’s projects sail through.
Zimbabwe Geographical Survey director Temba Hawadi, who is said to be handling the issue, could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone was not reachable.