| 4 December 2023, Monday |

Iran, Zimbabwe sign economic agreements as Raisi ends African tour

Zimbabwe and Iran have signed 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU) to strengthen bilateral relations as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi concluded his three-state African tour.

Raisi, who visited Kenya and Uganda earlier this week, met Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare on Thursday.

Reuters reported that the memorandums of understanding include plans to establish a tractor factory in Zimbabwe in partnership between an Iranian company and a local partner.

The two countries also signed cooperation agreements in energy, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, research, science, and technology.

“We welcome investments in several sectors of our economy,” Mnangagwa told reporters after the signing ceremony. He did not say how much investment Zimbabwe was expecting from Iran.

AFP said the Iranian President received a “warm reception” at Robert Mugabe International Airport.

Mnangagwa welcomed, Raisi calling him “brother” on the tarmac after the Iranian President’s plane landed.

“When we went to war, Iran was our friend,” said Mnangagwa, seeking re-election in August, speaking of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence from Britain in 1980.

“I’m happy you have come to show solidarity,” he added before talks between the two presidents.

Speaking to a crowd waving Zimbabwean and Iranian flags, Mnangagwa said he shared many of the Iranian President’s views.

Raisi said that his country will work hard to consolidate economic relations with Zimbabwe, referring to the US sanctions imposed on the two countries.

On Saturday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that trade volume with Africa would increase to over $2 billion this year without providing a figure for 2022.

Raisi’s African visit, the first by an Iranian president since 2013, follows a tour in June to three Latin American countries suffering from US sanctions.

Africa has emerged as a diplomatic battleground, with Russia and the West trying to court support over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which has had a devastating economic impact on the continent, sending food prices soaring.

Western powers have also sought to deepen trade ties with Africa, India, and China.

Iran has intensified its diplomatic activity recently to reduce its isolation and offset the consequences of sanctions re-imposed after the 2018 US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

The governments of Iran and Kenya announced that ministers from the two countries signed five MoU in information technology, fisheries, livestock products, and investment promotion.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani described the visit as a “new turning point” which would boost economic and trade ties with African countries.

Kanaani indicated that Iran and the African countries share “common political views.”

  • Asharq Al-Awsat