Zim needs billions for infrastructure

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IOL bus sep3 Tendai Biti AP Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Monday said more than $20 billion was needed for infrastructure projects such as road and rail networks and to fully kickstart the re-emerging mining industry.

“The thirst for capital in our country is huge and high,” Biti said at a ceremony to unveil a 500 million pula (64.3 million US dollars) credit facility from Botswana.

“On infrastructure alone, the country requires $14.5 billion. The mining sector requires $5 to 7 billion to be fully operational. Our country needs capital in the form of foreign direct investment, lines of credit and cheap access to finance.”

He said the credit line is part of funds pledged by Zimbabwe's regional neighbours to help recovery projects after President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai formed a unity government in 2009 after polls chaos.

The money will be given as loans to firms in the energy, steel, leather, pharmaceutical industries as well as tourism.

President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Kumbirai Katsande said the credit facility will make a significant contribution to the economy, comparing the country's present economic woes to the aftermath of a hurricane.

Botswana's finance minister Kenneth Matambo said all commercial banks in Botswana have agreed to participate in the line of credit subject to a government guarantee.

He said 70 percent of the funds will be availed to the manufacturing sector and the remainder to agriculture.

Zimbabwe's economy is showing signs of recovery from a nearly decade-long downturn which saw companies pulling down the shutters, downsizing or migrating while roads, hospitals and railways crumbled under neglect. -Sapa-AFP


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