Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addressing a rally of supporters. ANA

INTERNATIONAL - Gold production, exports and tourist arrivals are up in Zimbabwe, giving the struggling economy a much-needed reprieve from foreign currency and cash shortages.

Tourist arrivals were higher in the first half of the year, giving a major boost to the country’s foreign currency receipts. According to a report released by Africa Albida Tourism, the newly upgraded Victoria Falls Airport has increased its capacity by more than 125000 passenger seats a year.

“A sizeable drop in local arrivals has been masked by significant growth in international arrivals on the Zimbabwean side. International tourist arrivals to Victoria Falls rose 17percent in 2016 and have gained an additional 32percent in the first six months of 2017,” the report said. Regional and international airlines that use Victoria Falls include Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, South Africa’s Airlink, British Airways, Air Zimbabwe, South African Airways, Fastjet and Air Namibia.

Fidelity Printers said Zimbabwe’s gold production for the first eight months of 2017 increased 10% to 14.6 tons. Fidelity Printers is a unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which is the country’s sole buyer of gold.

Zimbabwe is eyeing about 24tons of gold this year, and bullion output was about 2.5tons in August, the highest monthly production in this current. “Last month, gold deliveries reached a record high of 2.5tons and exports went up by 17percent,” Jonathan Moyo, a cabinet minister, tweeted.

Zimbabwe is also a significant producer of platinum, nickel, chrome and coal. The government has been battling to contain cash shortages despite the introduction of more bond notes and coins.

Losing ground

The bond currency has been losing ground on the parallel market, with prices going up as businesses factor in the cost of buying hard currency on the informal currency market.

The stronger gold mining performance has been aided by mining firms’ focus on increasing production by restructuring. Mzi Khumalo’s Metallon, which runs four mines in Zimbabwe, has said the restructuring of its business was part of a strategy to increase efficiencies. “As part of this restructuring exercise, each of Metallon’s four operating mines will now operate as separate entities. By making the mines standalone operations, Metallon will increase efficiency,” it said this month.

- BUSINESS REPORT