Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zimbabwe: Government to Open Information Centres to Boost Trade

Dave Fish Eagle on May 18th, 2009 and filed under Financial News. Email This You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

The Zimbabwe government is planning to open information centres in five strategic countries and to expand international media coverage of Zimbabwe as it moves to promote the country as a potential investment hub.

The initiative ties in with the objectives of last month’s ministerial retreat in Victoria Falls, which are aimed at achieving a quick revival of the country’s economy.

The Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity George Charamba told the House of Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology on Thursday that his ministry was working on recreating a positive image of Zimbabwe.

Although he did not give time-frames for the implementation of the initiative, Charamba said information attaches would be dispatched to South Africa, Malaysia, China, Britain and the US to spearhead the marketing program.

“The country needs to shed the negative image of the past,” he told the committee, whose objective on the day was to acquaint itself with the ministry’s operations. Under the program, the information centres will disseminate information on the inclusive government and Zimbabwe’s various tourist attractions.

The ministry’s international communication directorate will superintend the centres’ functions while collaborating with the relevant government portfolios on areas of common focus. Charamba said the formation of the inclusive government had opened a window for Zimbabwe to portray a positive image of itself internationally.

He said this and the country’s tourist attractions would be at the center of his ministry’s marketing efforts.

“The negative (image of the country) has been because of the political situation and this has been dealt with through the inclusive government. If we sort out our image mess back home thatwill reflect outwardly,” he said.

“So this is our foremost point: The fundamental issue is that Zimbabwe has rediscovered itself and that we are working in unison. We are also piggybacking our image via our natural attractions, as this has been identified as critical for the quick turnaround of our economy.”

The Secretary added that South Africa was a target market because of its business and investment value. Malaysia and China, which share strong historical ties with Zimbabwe, are centrally placed in the Far East, making them good business partners and springboards to other Asian markets.

“China is an emerging economic giant. In fact, the West is turning East for its economic turnaround. It is therefore important for an information attache to be based in Beijing and other emerging growth points in that country.

“London (in Britain), whatever the ups and downs of our relations, we need an attaché there whether we like it or not. It is a critical market and will also be a springboard for us to reach Paris, Frankfurt and other capitals within range.”

Charamba also told the committee, which is chaired by the Member of the House of Assembly for Southert on Gift Chimanikire, that his ministry was also considering reaching international audiences through digital media.

Among such media is satellite television, which would probably require collaboration between Zimbabwe and fellow Southern African countries. Questioned by committee member and Mutare North Member of the House of Assembly Charles Pemhenayi on the measures that his ministry has put in place to ensure Zimbabwe receives positive international media coverage, he said the international communication directorate was handling this area.

He revealed that the government has been engaging the BBC and CNN with a view to securing their coverage in addition to the work that various foreign journalists are already carrying out locally.

“Zimbabwe is exposed to the international media, as different foreign journalists have been operating here for some time now. There is, however, a dogged perception that we are an impermissible environment as what is referred to as the international media is the CNN and BBC,” he said.

“We would want to remind the CNN that they are not banned from this country. Nothing was given either orally or in writing, stating that they had been banned. It is just that they took a solidarity boycott with the BBC after we had said the latter was representing political interests.

“We have taken the decision that they must be engaged: Overtures have been made to both media organisations, and the BBC have said they’ll be coming over while the CNN’s coverage would be from South Africa.”

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