TA Boss Predictcs Growth

10 June 2010

Financial Gazette
Companies & Markets

Zimbabwe will transform into Africa’s fastest growing economy in the next decade, a leading industrialist said last week, warning however, that the envisaged growth would hinge on the country’s ability to swiftly react to business opportunities that will sprout across the continent.

TA Holdings executive chairman, Shingi Mutasa, said the greatest weakness that had triggered the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy was the “wait and see” attitude by government during times of great economic opportunities.

But with massive investments now lining up across Africa as global corporations angle up for business on the continent, prompt reaction to snatch up deals will be paramount, he said.

Mutasa said on Friday projections by his regional investment company had indicated that if these shortcomings were addressed, Zimbabwe will shake off problems emanating from its weak banking system, high unemployment, low capacity utilisation in industries, massive power blackouts and failing health and education delivery systems to be among Africa’s leading economies.

The usually quiet TA Holdings boss told scores of business executives and government officials at the Zimbabwe Institute of Management Manager of the Year Awards presentation that it was time government followed the example of companies like TA that defied the domestic recession to reinvest in Africa.
“Our role in the economic future of Africa is very significant,” Mutasa said.

“Africa in the next 10 to 15 years will have the strongest Gross Domestic Product growth in the world and Zimbabwe will become the fastest growing economy in that continent,” he told the gathering.

“Zimbabwe must begin to strategise and plan for the growth. Each country is looking at its resources and trying to look for how to exploit them. Zimbabwe is blessed with human capital. Zimbabwe, inspite of what it is today will become the fastest growing economy in Africa and our development of the human capital is going to be key,” said Mutasa.

“Our weakness has been what I call the wait and see attitude. We cannot afford as an economy to wait and see. I am not blind to challenges in the Government of National Unity.

“I understand the challenges that exist in our times (but) those who want to wait and see should find a place in New Zealand or somewhere exciting,” said the TA chief.

Many believe the TA boss’ comments are not empty talk.

Mutasa has experience in regional investment trends having taken TA to several African countries and is aware of business opportunities on the continent.
He has reacted with the agility of a fish eagle to snatch opportunities as they come.

This has been the heartthrob of TA’s growth.

TA has a diversified portfolio with investment interests in fertiliser production, insurance, hospitality and other sectors in Zimbabwe.

The group controls majority shareholding in a number of foreign companies including 62.5 percent share holding in the Botswana Insurance Company, 35 percent shareholding in the Cresta Marakanelo, also in Botswana, 100 percent in Cresta Hotels, and 100 percent shareholding in Trans Industries among other foreign companies.

But his projections came as the International Monetary Fund two weeks ago painted a bleak future for Zimbabwe’s embattled economy, forecasting that several key economic indicators will fall as the country, shattered by a decade of domestic economic recession, battles to recover.

- Shame Makoshori (Chief Business Reporter)