Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe will soon design and manufacture its own car model which it envisages to export to other African countries and has since engaged an Italian firm to spearhead the project.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Harare yesterday between the Government and the Italian firm El Badaoui Group on the cooperation to come up with the car model.
El Badaoui Group president Mr Georges El Badaoui, who is also the Zimbabwean Honorary Consulate General in Milan, has since visited Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries to assess the infrastructure in place.
The design and manufacture of the car model is in line with the Government’s stance of value addition and beneficiation, which is expected to turn the country into a regional giant of exporting finished products.
President Mugabe has been at the forefront of calling for value addition and beneficiation, especially of minerals, and has since sold the idea to the African continent as the chairperson of the African Union.
During his tenure as Sadc chairperson between August 2014 and August this year, the President turned the region’s focus on value addition and beneficiation, which became part of the theme of the regional body’s last two summits.
Addressing a Press conference after the signing of the MoU, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said his ministry was submitting the MoU through the relevant processes.
“One of the areas of co-operation with Mr El Badaoui’s company is the establishment of an entity to spearhead the design and manufacture of a Zimbabwean-made car with potential for export throughout Africa,” he said.
“Mr El Badaoui visited Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries to assess the infrastructure currently in place. We are still working on the logistics of where the plant will be located and which institutions will be involved. Our thrust was to first come up with a framework, a process we have already done.
“This will get the ball rolling. We are looking at which institutions will be involved in creating this prototype. It is expected that the implementation of the MoU will assist in the rejuvenation of the manufacturing sector as well as expand the range of exported products to the region and beyond.”
Minister Bimha said further areas of cooperation with the El Badaoui Group included the establishment of an innovation company to undertake research and analysis of the country’s natural resources.
The resources would be processed into final products ready for export.
Plans are also afoot to establish a food outlet to prepare food for exhibition at the Milan Expo.
Burgers made from Zimbabwean crocodile meat, zebra burger and baobab fruit juice attracted a lot of attention at the just-ended Milan Expo where people queued to buy them.
Minister Bimha said the establishment of the innovation company will enhance the analysis of the country’s raw materials with the aim of value addition and beneficiation.
He said institutions of higher learning will spearhead the establishment of the entities and their operations.
“These three areas discussed were just less than one percent of opportunities to be realised in future cooperation according to Mr El Badaoui, ” said Minister Bimha.
“Zimbabwe successfully participated at the just-ended Expo Milan 2015 with a number of positive outcomes which included the production of innovative value added products.
Raw materials taken to Milan including herbs like makoni, zumbani and resurrection were developed into high quality liquor drinks.
Mr El Badaoui said Zimbabwe Is endowed with natural resources which can be exploited at a low cost.
Asked how much his company was going to invest in Zimbabwe, Mr El Badaoui said he was mostly interested in innovation than in figures.
“We will make a huge investment, but first we must focus on innovation,” he said. “We must first see what can be done before talking about figures. Of cause, we will channel funds into the country.
“Zimbabwe is endowed with a lot of natural resources. What is needed is the right idea to process them at a low cost.”