Michael Tome Business Reporter
INDUSTRY and Commerce Minister Nqobizitha Ndlovu has challenged firms to find ways to navigate the turbulent economic environment and spur productivity in order to stimulate the growth of exports.
Zimbabwe has in the past year been buffeted by innumerable challenges that have been choking the country’s productive sectors, which has result in further decline of capacity utilisation while the economy also shrunk.
Aggregate demand on the other side has also taken a tailspin owing to the domestic currency’s sustained value erosion, leaving the majority of the population with little or no disposable incomes.
Electricity outages, currency volatility and an inevitable drought last year have all slowed economic performance in 2019, which has seen all projections pointing to a negative growth economic growth this year.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube is on record saying the economy is expected to post negative growth of 6,5 this year, largely due to the effect of drought, cyclones Idai and Kenneth, as well as the impact of acute power shortage.
The constrains, which have inflicted significant harm on the economy, come at a time when the Government is aiming to place the economy on sustainable growth path to achieve Vision 2030 of middle income status.
In a speech read on his behalf at the Zimbabwe Economic and Financial Indaba by secretary for Industry and Commerce, Dr Mavis Sibanda, Minister Ncube said public and private sectors should be inventive and focus on other growth strategies.
“I think we have reached a stage where collectively in both private and public sectors, we need to focus our attention on how we craft solutions to the known challenges so that we expend our energies more productively,” said Minister Ndlovu.
In addition to formulation and implementation of the right policies he further identified capital injection for industrial development in the key sectors like agriculture and mining as the basis for a vibrant economy.
The minister said there were a number of interventions that Government was looking to adopt and implement through the Zimbabwe National Industrialisation Policy (ZNIDP), which the ministry launched in June this year.
“There is a mix of short-term policies and strategies that we wish to adopt via the ZNIDP to spur industrialisation, such as improving the business operating environment, mobilising funding for industrial development, supporting mining and agricultural sectors, enhancing research and development,” he said.
Many African countries, particularly Zimbabwe, are losing out on the benefits of exploiting full value chains, as they are quick to export raw materials without further processing products into manufactured goods.
He therefore called on local Industry to strongly embrace beneficiation for maximisation of benefits.
“Value addition and beneficiation form the main anchors of the policy and strategies to support the policy such as the local content strategy, focus on options to add value to local raw materials and encourage an inward–looking principle to think and act local, buy local and boost home grown production and service solutions,” he said.
Zimbabwe Agriculture Show president Dr Anxious Masuka called on the industry to copy from tobacco financing model to boost production in many of sectors that require resuscitation.
“Agriculture is a capital intensive area that requires a robust funding mechanism, we have to copy from the tobacco industry which has robust systems that are efficient and have clearly generated positive results.
“We need to sort out agriculture first for our industry to be competitive, especially if we are to talk about a functional industry,” said Dr Masuka.