The Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara) has just proposed to issue a new bond facility aimed at the diaspora to fund various infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges. This move is inspired by the success of the infrastructure bond they issued last year that was oversubscribed by $ 5million.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Investment Conference, Zinara Chief Executive Officer, Nancy Chamisa alluded to the ongoing rehabilitation of roads in some areas as one of the projects being funded by last year’s bond facility. She said that Zinara has now set its sight to the diaspora so that it bankrolls its infrastructure projects. It remains to be seen whether Zinara will eventually issue the bond facility but until then, there are some questions stakeholders will be interested to know.
Does the Diaspora have the money to invest in huge projects?
The diaspora organizations that are active in investing in Zimbabwe have the financial wherewithal to finance huge projects. For instance, the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG) is a powerful organization that has the potential to subscribe to Zinara’s bond facility. DIDG is famously known for winning a National Railways of Zimbabwe recapitalization tender worth $400 million early this month.
Organisations like these are Zinara’s best bet because individually Zimbos in the diaspora will probably be skeptical and risk averse particularly when it comes to public institution bonds.
Will they subscribe?
I think it depends on the time the issuing of the bond will be made. Given the current economic climate marred by poor returns to investors and political uncertainty, Zinara will find it hard to raise money from the diaspora before the general elections midyear. Perhaps after elections when the political and economic landscape has stabilized Dispora organizations like DIDG could be enticed to subscribe the bond issue.
But then again, organizations like DIDG are already familiar with the political and economic sphere of Zimbabwe, and they have already shown that they are not in a wait and see pattern.
Who may subscribe if the Diaspora fails?
In the case that the diaspora has failed to fully subscribe to the bond facility, Zinara will have to extend the offer to the local institutional investors like banks, pension funds and insurance companies etc. You may be wondering why Zinara is not giving priority to our local investors to subscribe but it’s merely the reason that local investors these days invariably invest in our local currency of bond notes which is not preferable to foreign currency injected by the Diaspora.
Although, Zinara is raising funds for noble causes, its time they learn to stand on its own feet and be able to finance thier projects from the revenue they collect otherwise they will continue to be losing money through interests they incur in issuing bonds. They need to plug the holes that drain their money through corruption and mismanagement.
Yes public infrastructure is usually built through issuance of bonds but I am not yet convinced that Zinara is currently utilising what they collect optimally.