Lionel Depute and Tatenda Charamba
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) supported by European Union yesterday handed over leather processing equipment worth thousands of dollars to Government for use by Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The equipment included a skiving machine, sole processing machine, a post machine, belt aging machine, arm machine, shoe lasts, pliers and toe lasting machine.
The move will boost the activities of SMEs in the country.
Speaking after receiving the equipment, Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operative Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni said the equipment will help boost leather production and promote industrialisation in the country.
“I would like to encourage SMEs to take advantage of the state-of-the-art equipment funded by EU to produce quality products,” she said.
“The handover of the leather equipment we are witnessing today is another milestone towards an endeavour of promoting industrialisation in Zimbabwe.
“Government is grateful to the support and this ensures that the SMEs in the leather sector are empowered to produce quality leather products to improve their competitiveness on the local and export market.”
Minister Nyoni said countries like Ethiopia and Italy depended on leather for economic development.
“Countries such as Italy and Ethiopia have made great strides in developing their economies by value adding on leather,” she said.
“I know Ethiopia is ahead of us, but let us show them that what was really missing was the appropriate support.”
Minister Nyoni said the SMEs created employment for thousands of people.
“Over 4 000 real jobs were recorded during my last visit to Manicaland,” she said.
“A man based in Mutare, who runs a small business, employs over 150 people who collect hides.”
Executive secretary of Comesa Mr Mahmood Mansoor said SMEs had potential to create employment in Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector was large and well diversified before its decline over the years and lost more than 50 percent of output,” he said.
“With the closure or scaling down of most of the leather related companies, the SMEs sector is becoming a major source of employment for most Zimbabweans.”