Fungi Kwaramba in Gweru
AN investor-friendly environment that comes with ubiquitous construction projects has spurred manufacturing industries growth in Zimbabwe as they have ramped up production in the national quest to be an upper middle class economy by 2030.
Such industries that are counting profits riding on the construction of roads, dams and other key infrastructure projects include Sino-Zimbabwe Cement and shoe-making giant Bata, which is increasing the manufacturing of safety shoes in direct response to local demand.
On its part Sino-Zimbabwe Cement, the third largest manufacturer of cement, has also increased production in response to rising demand.
It is not only a boom in the construction industry that has sparked economic growth, but also demand for bread which has seen companies like Lesaffre, the sole producer of yeast, recording brisk business.
Notably, all these three companies are domiciled in Gweru and their growth augurs well with the Government’s Devolution policy, as they create employment for locals and contribute to the provincial GDP, that feeds into the national coffers.
For an appreciation of the revival of industries in Gweru since the dawn of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa was yesterday in the Midlands Province capital in the company of Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza and other top Government officials, who included the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana.
The President, whose administration has opened the country to investment through responsive and favourable policies, urged the manufacturing sector to seize opportunities in the region and beyond for further growth.
“I am delighted to note that all the three companies we have toured today are playing their part in expanding production as well as increasing productivity in line with the aspirations of the Second Republic.
“I exhort industry to continuously adapt through innovative and responsive strategies for increased production, productivity and profitability within the sector. I also urge you to take advantage of the innovation hubs and industrial parks at our institutions of higher learning in order to develop innovative and competitively priced goods.
“As you ramp up production at your various organisations, I urge you to strike an intricate balance between the profitability of your operations and the welfare of your employees and surrounding communities.
“Provision of decent housing for workers should also be considered and prioritised. I encourage players in the manufacturing sector to aggressively take advantage of and claim your share of the market opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area, COMESA, SADC as well as other emerging markets,” the President said.
In his double-barrelled address to the three companies that are changing the face of Gweru and thousands of Zanu PF supporters at a rally on the grounds of Bata Shoe Company, the President said local authorities should augment central Government efforts, which have improved the ease and cost of doing business through provision of critical enablers such as energy, water and sanitation, roads and ICTs.
“I call upon our local authorities to play a pivotal role in ensuring a conducive business operating environment through the provision of services that match the growth trends being fostered by the Second Republic. I also exhort ministries, agencies and departments, as facilitators of investment, to always be ready to respond to the requests of the private sector and other stakeholders.”
Crucially, value chain industrialisation is key to the country achieving it’s target to be an upper middle-class-economy by 2030, as such industries like Bata Shoe Company, which have invested more than US$6 million in plant and machinery are the critical drivers towards that goal, as is spelt out in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), the country’s economic blueprint that underpins the current economic growth trajectory.
Bata Shoe Company is thus expected to play s leading role in the attainment of the national target of producing 17 million pairs of shoes annually.
A Polyurethane machine that was commissioned yesterday at the shoe company will be producing safety shoes, in response to the expanding economy and soaring demand.
As part of value addition and promoting local industries, all materials for the shoes will be sourced locally.
Industry capacity utilisation has increased resulting in locally produced goods occupying 75 percent of shop shelves in line with President Mnangagwa’s Made in Zimbabwe and Buy Zimbabwe policy.
For instance, at Sino-Zimbabwe Cement, which also manufactures bricks and is supplying cement for the construction of the Harare-Beitbridge highway, capacity utilisation stands at 90 percent with over 300 employees.
“Such product diversification in business, as we witnessed in the production plant at Sino Cement, is benefiting from the boom in the construction industry, which has seen huge investments in roads and housing, among others,” the President said.
On Lesaffre, which is the sole producer of yeast in the country, the President said other corporates that enjoy similar monopolies should take a leaf from the French headquartered company.
“The expansion of the Lesaffre plant is an indication of the confidence that French corporations have in the operating environment brought about by the Second Republic. Being the sole producer of yeast in Zimbabwe, they have continued to behave in a manner which identifies with the growth trajectory of the country. I, therefore, urge other corporate entities in similar circumstances to take a leaf from Lesaffre and operate in a responsible manner,” he said.
This comes as some monopolistic companies have been accused of abusing their monopoly to shortchange consumers forcing Government to intervene.
Per month, Lesaffre produces 340 tonnes of yeast that is used in the production of over 1.3 million loaves of daily baked bread.
The yeast is also used in alcoholic beverages as well as waste management.
Yesterday, the President told companies to reinvent and move with the times through manufacturing of products that are responsive to the market.
Meanwhile, the President reiterated his call for peace and for the nation to vote for Zanu PF next year to preserve gains of the liberation struggle.
The President said despite changing weather patterns, his Government has put in place measures that will ensure food security through climate proofing agriculture.