This profile of Zimbabwe and doing business there is an overview. From the drop-down menus at the top of this page, you can access a wide range of additional business information on Zimbabwe provided both by MBendi and by our clients and partners.
The first drop-down menu provides access to more detailed pages on the Zimbabwean economy, as well as to profiles of Zimbabwes major industry sectors, particularly oil and gas, chemicals and mining.
The second drop-down menu allows you to access profiles similar to this one for other countries of the world.
The third drop-down menu allows you to search our various databases of Zimbabwean business information. This includes companies, organisations including government departments, personalities, projects and facilities.
Finally, the fourth drop-down menu allows you to access a range of Internet applications aimed at assisting you to conduct business more effectively.
The news headlines on this page are updated on a daily basis. You can click on Other News at the end of the headlines in order to get the countrys business news stretching back over several years. Because this overview is only updated every few months, you should use recent news items to build an up to date picture of the Zimbabwean business environment.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country situated in Southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia. Harare is the capital city.
The political situation in the country is turbulent. President Robert Mugabe has been in power since 1987. In the past the opposition was ineffective but this has changed with the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). They have gained support from a large percentage of the population and have threatened Mugabes power for the first time. The rivalry between the two is fierce and there has been an escalation in political violence as a result.
Mugabe has taken some extreme measures in an effort to consolidate his power. These include the passing of draconian media laws as well as legislation that restricts the freedom of expression of the population. His election campaigning tactics have included roadblocks for those attending opposition rallies.
Zimbabwes economy has struggled since 2000 when first reports indicated commercial farm land was to be seized by the government as part of a land reform initiative. The country was rated 145th on the Human Development Index in 2003, real output has dropped by one third and inflation topped 300% in mid 2003. Shortages of basic goods such as fuel and bread are often reported. These problems are exacerbated by the negative effects of HIV/AIDS.
The crisis is seen to be as a result of inappropriate economic polices, the maintenance of a fixed exchange rate and increased regulations and government intervention. These conditions have made conducting business very difficult, resulting in a huge drop in economic activity as well as chronic shortages of foreign exchange.
The economy is dependent on agricultural products such as tobacco, cotton and sugarcane and in 2002 agriculture accounted for 17.4% of GDP. GDP totaled US$8 billion in 2002 and exports have dropped by 35% since 2000.
Manufacturing is another important sector in the Zimbabwean economy and efforts are focused on textile and sugar production. Mining, primarily gold mining is also significant. Industry and services accounted for 23.8% and 58.8% of GDP respectively in 2002. The countrys tourism industry has suffered as a result of the economic and political conditions.
The countrys industry sectors include mining activities such as coal, gold, copper, tin and nickel, as well as agriculture. Chemicals and the production of footwear and clothing are also significant sectors.
The turbulent political climate in Zimbabwe has led many international investors to either withdraw their investments or refrain from investing entirely. The shortage of foreign currency in the country makes it almost impossible to repatriate dividends from investments and there is reportedly a large backlog of such dividends awaiting repatriation.
Many investors have adopted a wait-and-see attitude to the country. They have decided to wait for the outcome of the March 2002 presidential election before taking the decision to invest or not.
Zimbabwe is one of few African countries that have been excluded from AGOA. This has had an adverse effect on the countrys trade and contributes to the worsening economic situation.
Zimbabwes main export items include tobacco, gold and cotton as well as wheat and other cereals. These items are exported to countries such as South Africa, Malawi, Botswana and Japan.
The country imports products such as machinery and transport equipment as well as chemicals. Fuel is an essential import product and the country often suffers from fuel shortages. Import partners include South Africa, the UK, the US as well as China and Germany.
There are regular flights between Johannesburg and Harare. North American visitors will have to connect from Johannesburg. European visitors can travel with Balkan Airways for well-priced flights although there are flights from London as well. Australian visitors are able to make use of flights on Quantas but they have suspended their service in March of 2002.
Visitors are required to have a passport, return ticket and adequate funds. Visas can be attained upon entering the country or in advance from a Zimbabwean embassy. It is necessary for people wishing to work as journalists in the country to apply to the Zimbabwean government for accreditation. A journalist may not work in the country if this requirement has not been fulfilled. There is also a compulsory departure tax of US$20 for all US citizens (including those holding official passports).
There are various domestic flights in the country. These are provided by Air Zimbabwe. Buses are also available for travel in the country, as well as taxis.
Communications and Infrastructure
The communications system used to be one of the best in Africa. This is not the case anymore due to a lack of maintenance and upgrading. There many unused lines but these have not been assigned to anyone despite the fact that there are thousands of requests for lines.
There is a large cellular network. Internet access is available in Harare and there are plans to extend this to all major towns in the country.
The political situation in Zimbabwe constitutes a significant risk. Security of ones business and person cannot be guaranteed. The government has not taken effective steps to curb political violence. There have also been no measures taken to stop land invasions in the country.
It is risky to invest in the country as the economic situation continues to worsen. The outcome of the March 2002 presidential election has had a significant effect on the immediate future of the countrys economy. The economy is likely to remain a risky one for some time as it may take a while to implement the reforms necessary to improve the economy.
Zimbabwe has a number of chambers of commerce and industry and details of these can be found via our Organisation Search, as can details of relevant government departments. MBendis Company Search allows interested parties to find details of many Zimbabwean companies.
African Development Bank, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, International Finance Corporation, International Monetary Fund, Southern African Development Community, African Union, The World Bank Group, United Nations, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Trade Organisation
Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
Event Venues (5)
Elephant Hills Conference Centre, Harare International Conference Centre, Tobacco Sales Floor, Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Conference Centre, Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre
Abascis, Alberta, Anzac, Arcturus, Babs, Beehive, Bindura, Black Dawn, Blanket, Blue Rock, Brompton mine, Bubi, Buchwa, Bulawayo, Cam & Motor, Camperdown, Cherole, Connemara, Copper, Cygnet
|Accommodation (96):||Ilala Lodge, Musango, Victoria Falls Rainbow Hotel, Amadeus Garden, Antelope Game Park, Barkers Lodge, Barkers Lodge – Restaurant, Big Cave Camp, Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel, Bumi Safari Lodge, Bushlife Safaris, Camp Amalinda, Camp Selous, Carew Safari Lodge, Carribea Bay|
|Attractions (41):||Bulawayo Art Gallery, Chapungu Shona Kraal, Chimanimani National Park, Chizarira National Park, Domboshawa Rock Domes and Cave Paintings, Elephant Hills Golf Course, Ewanrigg Botanical Gardens, Fothergill Island, Gonarezhou National Park, Great Zimbabwe National Monument, Hwange National Park, Inyanga and Mtarazi Falls National Park, Kazuma Pan National Park, Khami Ruins, Lake Chivero Recreational Park|
|Restaurants (2):||Morgans Restaurant, The Boma – Place of Eating|