Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S air cargo exports have grown 5 percent since 2012, mainly driven by fresh produce, Aviation Ground Services managing director Mr Caleb Mudyawabikwa said.

The country’s air cargo terminal handled 9 million kg in 2012, 9,8 million kg a year later and 10 million kg in 2014, Mr Mudyawabikwa said at a ceremony to commission the company’s $300 000 warehouse built at the Harare International Airport yesterday.

AGS warehouse was commissioned by Transport and Infrastructure Development Minister Obert Mpofu.

“Sixty percent of the volumes handled were flowers, 30 percent fresh produce and the reminder other cargo,” he said.

Zimbabwe was one of the largest exporters of flowers in Africa, supplying overseas markets including Europe and the Middle East.

By 2001, it ranked as the second largest in Africa, behind Kenya, second among African, Caribbean and Pacific exporters, and was the fifth biggest exporter to the European Union.

Mr Mudyawabikwa said the new warehouse would increase the company’s cargo handling capacity as the country hopes to benefit from the projected aviation growth across Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular.

Africa’s aviation is expected to register annual growth of 5 percent over the next 20 years, according to experts.

Mr Mudyawabikwa said the latest investment, made at a time when the country is facing economic challenges demonstrated the company’s “long-term view” on the economy.

Plans were also underway to expand operations at the Victoria Falls International Airport and Joshua Mqabuko Airport in Bulawayo, he added.

“I am (also) glad to say that Aviation Ground Services security systems were audited and validated by the European Union in February 2015 and were found compliant with the EU security requirements.

“The validation is a seal of approval of our exports, which are mainly horticultural produce, to enter the EU market. The EU validation is going to open doors for business re-engagement with the EU,” said Mr Mudyawabikwa.

Minister Mpofu said Government was keen to support partners willing to revive the aviation industry.

“Our guiding principles in doing so will remain within Zim-Asset under the infrastructure and utilities cluster,” said Minister Mpofu.

“I want to applaud you AGS for the good works and I am also encouraging you to do even more. This is indeed a symbol of growing aviation industry in the country and increased service delivery.”

AGS chairman Mr Musekiwa Kumbula described the latest investment as “vote of confidence” in the economy despite prevailing challenges.

Last year, AGS won two awards for excellence in the provision of aircraft and cargo handling services in Southern Africa and the entire African continent.

The company received the award, courtesy of South African Airways after being named the best aircraft and cargo handler.

It was also named overall winner in Africa, ahead of other ground and aircraft handlers contracted by the Africa’s largest airline.

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