Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday opened a state-of-the-art baking centre in Harare operated by Lesaffre Zimbabwe, which was established following the acquisition of the majority stake in Anchor Yeast by the French company in a $14 million deal. During the past year, Lesaffre invested more than $3 million in working capital, culminating in the creation of the baking centre.
Speaking at the occasion, VP Mnangagwa said Government will continue to play its facilitatory role by improving the business climate and addressing major constraints affecting the business community in general and the yeast industry in particular.
“To this end, Government through SI126 of 2014 removed yeast from the Open General Import Licence (OGIL),” he said. “Moreover, Government through SI6 of 2016 made a decision to have capital equipment imported under rebate of duty.
“Let me express my sincere gratitude to Lesaffre for showing confidence in the Zimbabwean economy by investing in Anchor Yeast Holdings. Lesaffre acquired a 60 percent stake in former Anchor Yeast in a transaction valued at $14 million and to date, the company has injected in excess of $3 million in working capital.”
VP Mnangagwa said he was informed that the firm’s Gweru yeast production factory was being transformed into a state-of-the-art facility and plans were underway to double its capacity.
This, he said, would help the company to meet its domestic and export orders, with the realised export volumes helping the country to earn foreign currency, as well as enable the company to benefit from enhanced efficiencies and economies of scale.
He said the Lesaffre-Anchor Yeast partnership constituted one of the key business models that Zimbabwe requires for development.
“This Baking Centre will play a pivotal role in the development of the baking industry in Zimbabwe and the region through innovation, research and development and provision of appropriate training,” he said.
“This will bring about necessary skills transfer, technological development and employment creation as envisaged in Zim-Asset. Moreover, in addition to Lesaffre Zimbabwe’s current staff complement of 120, trainees from this institution will be easily integrated into the mainstream baking industry or start their own bakeries as entrepreneurs.”
VP Mnangagwa said it was Government’s desire that Lesaffre Zimbabwe becomes a major player in Zimbabwe’s economy and the region at large.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha urged other companies to engage in partnerships, saying Government was open to discussion if there were sticking issues.
“When Government came up with SI64, it was at the request of the local industry, but as Government we cannot continue protecting you,” he said. “We have given you the opportunity to grow, soon we will be expecting you to stand on your own.”
Lesaffre chief executive Mr Antoine Baule said his company was keen to continue investing in Zimbabwe, saying Lesaffre was celebrating opening its first baking centre in Southern Africa.
“This baking centre will be part of a network born in France in 1974 and today composed of 38 centres, with more than 300 technicians in bakery technicians present on five continents,” he said.
“Lesaffre is in the process of upgrading and expanding the Gweru yeast plant, the main focus being to improve quality and increase exports into the region.”
Lesaffre Zimbabwe director Mr Michael Nyabadza hailed Government for its policies which he said were conducive to investment.
Lesaffre employs 9 500 people in more than 75 subsidiaries based in 45 countries, with a turnover of more than 1,9 billion Euros, including in emerging markets.