Take lead in developing value chains: VP Chiwenga Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga and his wife Colonel Miniyothabo Chiwenga are taken on a tour of TCM China Medical Team stand by Dr Hu Sha at the ongoing Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo yesterday. — Picture: Eliah Saushoma.

Mashudu Netsianda-Bulawayo Bureau

ZIMBABWE will continue to leverage its vast natural resources as part of bold steps towards becoming a producer of high-value goods and services that are competitive on the global market, Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga has said.

This demands that the private sector takes the lead in developing the value chains that exist across key sectors, riding on the enhanced business climate brought about by Government reforms to boost domestic production and increase export earnings.

Speaking during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) International Business Conference in Bulawayo yesterday, VP Chiwenga said the pursuit of the ease of doing business reforms was part of broad measures to enhance the country’s competitiveness and investment attractiveness in key economic sectors.

“Over the years, the overall ease of doing business environment in Zimbabwe has been improving. I encourage you to join us in shaping the future. Invest in Zimbabwe and become an architect of global supply chains,” he told delegates.

“Zimbabwe is on the move to become a producer of high-value goods and services, not just for ourselves, but for the global market. I, therefore, challenge the private sector to take the lead in developing the value chains.”

VP Chiwenga said there is a need for collaborative efforts by the Government, academia and established corporations to embrace innovation, which will help the country unlock the potential for a new era of industrialisation and trade.

“We need a nurturing ecosystem for the spark of innovation to truly ignite a global inferno of progress. This requires collaborative efforts of Government, academia and established corporations.

“The Second Republic, ably led by the President, His Excellency Dr ED Mnangagwa, leads the way with supportive policies, streamlined regulations, and access to capital and tax incentives that empower aspiring industrial innovators,” he said.

“Together, through innovation, we can unlock a world of possibilities for a brighter future, create new industries, forge stronger trade relationships and generate jobs that propel economies forward.”

The Vice President said the Zimbabwean economy has been on a positive growth trajectory,  with real Gross Domestic Product growth of 8,5 percent recorded in 2021, about 6,5 percent in 2022 and 5,5 percent in 2023.

This year’s projected growth rate is 3,5 percent, despite the El Nino-induced drought.

VP Chiwenga also said capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector increased significantly from 52,6 percent in 2017 to 66 percent in 2022. 

However, it declined to 56 percent in 2023 owing to power supply challenges.

Vice President Kembo Mohadi shares a lighter moment with Dr Benson Dube (left), Permanent Secretary in his office, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Jenfan Muswere (fourth from left), his deputy Dr Omphile Marupi (right) and Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana (second from left) during a tour of the ministry’s stand at ZITF in Bulawayo yesterday.

“On a positive note, shelf space occupancy of locally manufactured goods in retail outlets increased sharply from 55 percent in 2021 to 80 percent in 2022 and 2023.”

Going forward, VP Chiwenga said the Government is crafting the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy, aimed at leapfrogging the country’s transition from a primary commodity-based economy towards a technologically advanced and diversified economy. 

The new policy will run from this year to 2030, following the lapse of the previous policy that was implemented between 2019-2023.

The vision of the new policy is to: “Accelerate the transition from a primary commodity-based economy towards a technologically advanced and diversified industry and commerce by 2030”.

As a member of SADC, VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe fully subscribes to the regional bloc’s industrialisation strategy that emphasises innovation, transformation and strengthening inter-industrial links.

“Our strategic location and well-developed infrastructure network make Zimbabwe a gateway to the vast African Continental Free Trade Area, a market of 1,3 billion people across the continent, with a combined GDP valued at US$3,4 trillion,” he said.

“This presents a great opportunity to expand your reach and forge new partnerships across the continent.”

Noting the reduced power generation at Kariba and Hwange due to low water levels and aging power generation plants, the Vice President said the country is currently pursuing various renewable energy sources through independent power producers.

VP Chiwenga said the discovery of vast lithium reserves compels the Government to value add and ensure the local manufacture of batteries for solar energy generation.

“The local manufacture of lithium batteries will make them more affordable and accessible to the general populace,” he said. 

“As the world shifts from fossil fuel-powered vehicles to electric vehicles, we should strategically position ourselves to benefit from our lithium resources.”

VP Chiwenga said the lithium boom that Zimbabwe is experiencing should change the industrial and economic landscape of the country.

“Given these developments, we should become a hub for the manufacture of lithium-based products.”

He said plans were on course to explore wind energy generation, with wind resource assessment feasibility studies having been commissioned through technical support by the African Development Bank. The Government has also adopted a deliberate policy of establishing hydropower plants at every dam under construction.

“As Government, we urge corporates to support these initiatives by also putting up independent power generation facilities that can feed into the national grid,” said VP Chiwenga.

“Given the climate change-induced uncertainties in weather patterns, it becomes imperative for us to be at the forefront in terms of innovativeness in the agricultural sector, which is a major source for our manufacturing sector.”

With the recent discovery of oil and gas, Zimbabwe is poised to become a big player in the global petroleum industry, said the VP, adding that the Government would continue to develop policies and set up industrial parks to foster and promote value addition and beneficiation.

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