Brighton Gumbo Business Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN companies can increase their earnings through exploiting the goods and service supply gap in Namibia, a Zimtrade survey has shown. Presenting the findings of the study in Bulawayo Friday, ZimTrade director of Africa corporate advisors, Malvin Rusike, said local companies should produce for export in order to grow the economy.
He said pharmaceutical, construction and leather industries have the potential to lead the country’s trade profile. Rusike said trade between Zimbabwe and Namibia should not be a challenge given the existing infrastructure linking the two countries and cordial bilateral relations.
“As of last year, the Namibian import bill was at $7.5 billion with Zimbabwe contributing about $9 million. Namibia has vast opportunities in construction, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and leather products,” said Rusike.
“It’s of great importance that local exporters push for that market as the country currently owns less than one percent of the market share in Namibia.” He also said Namibia presents opportunities for the veterinary products, professional services, engineering, medical, hospitality and teaching sectors as well as fast moving consumer goods.
“There’s building of new shopping malls like Grove Mall and Maerua Mall in Windhoek and in other towns as well. Also huge industrial and commercial buildings are being constructed with extensive residential construction projects also currently underway,” said Rusike.
He said exporters could tap into that country’s leather sector since its industry was not yet developed. “There’s scope for niche markets for selected leather products such as safari leather shoes, bags, belts, wallets, sandals, hats,” said Rusike.
He said Namibia’s manufacturing sector contributes about 15 percent to the Gross Domestic Product with its light industry linked to agro processing. “If we’ve the manufacturing capacity, which has the ability to supply that market, let’s do so,” he said. Rusike said Zimbabwe can utilise bilateral and multilateral trade agreements between itself and Namibia.
The two countries signed a preferential trade agreement in 1992, which facilitates duty free trade. However, Rusike said while Namibia had a strong product demand for Zimbabwe’s products, there were also setbacks affecting trade between the two countries. Some of the challenges included obsolete technology, antiquated machinery, lack of competitiveness and customs issue.
Rusike said Zimbabwe needs to review its trade policies and put incentives to promote exports. Though Namibia is sparsely populated with an estimated population of two million, its spending power was high.Namibia is indexed at 101 out of 189 under the World Bank ease of doing business rankings whereas Zimbabwe is ranked 155.