Re-branding Zimbabwe

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On 25 October 2018, Akribos Research Services participated in the Brand Zimbabwe Summit.

The purpose of the summit is to bring together economic participants and experts so as to discuss strategies earmarked at improving the perception of Zimbabwe as a country.

The rationale is to then provide advice to authorities and recommend appropriate strategies.

According to Dr Keith Dinnie (Nation Branding; Concepts, Issues & Practice), a nation brand is defined as “the unique, multi-dimensional blend of elements that provide the nation with culturally grounded differentiation and relevance for all of its target audiences”.

A key take-way from the summit was the realisation that nations are making increasingly conscious efforts to hone their country branding in recognition of the need to fulfill three major objectives: to attract tourists, to stimulate inward investment and to boost exports.

Rwanda continues to be a classical case study given the progress it has made in terms of fighting corruption and improving the ease of doing business.

Rwanda is ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Africa by the World Bank and has been awarded for its leadership in tourism and competitiveness by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Economic Forum respectively.

Investors in Rwanda are able to register their businesses in only six hours! The country also became Arsenal’s first official sleeve partner through a £30m sponsorship deal, which is part of its drive to become a leading global tourist destination. The three-year deal will also see ‘Visit Rwanda’ become Arsenal’s official Tourism Partner.

Our view is that in-order to attract tourists, portfolio and foreign direct investments, authorities in Zimbabwe will have to be “smart” and genuinely innovate specifically in the area of nation branding. International investors and tourists now possess a plethora of options!

On the tourism front, for example, there is need to develop a concrete Tourism Marketing plan – call it “Visit Zimbabwe” or “Buy Zimbabwe” – in order to boost the influx of international tourists. The marketing campaign should also include the restructuring and rebranding of the national airline which could mean privatisation and listing on the local bourse (ZSE).

This will help ease pressure on government resources, boost efficiencies and attract international tourists to strategic locations within Zimbabwe. Kenya Airways and Air Mauritius are great case studies.

There is need for government to understand that Zambia, Malawi and even South Africa are competing for the same share of the investor’s pocket. In other words, Zimbabwe’s economic demise has been – in a way – an advantage for other Southern African states.

Zimbabwe needs to do all the things every emerging nation has to do to attract foreign and regional partners in order to not just grow but survive in the new global economy. Corruption has been cited as the 3rd most problematic factor of doing business in Zimbabwe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has echoed the need to curb corruption. Investors will need to see more of his whip and crack down on chronic corruption that has dogged economic activity for decades.

More arrests, demotions of corrupt leaders, seizure of stolen or siphoned assets and a review of the land redistribution process will do the trick!

The country will also need to map out a clear vision, focus on its competitive advantages, improve the ease of doing business and more importantly, deal with policy inconsistencies.

  • Batanai Matsika is head of research at Akribos Research Services. He can be contacted on +263 78 358 4745 or batanai@akriboscapital. com
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