Government to accelerate Bulawayo industrialisation drive
Sikhulekelani Moyo, [email protected]
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been tasked to facilitate accelerated industrialisation taking advantage of innovation hubs and industrial parks established at State universities across the country, a Cabinet Minister said yesterday.
Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said her ministry will also work on a programme to re-open closed industries.
In her first engagement with Matabeleland captains of industry in Bulawayo yesterday, Minister Nyoni said it is industries that drive the economy supported by sectors such as agriculture, mining and services.
Dr Nyoni said on its part the Ministry will continue to come up with policies that promote industrial development and growth.
“The Second Republic has mandated my ministry to facilitate accelerated industrialisation countrywide. Bulawayo is the second largest city and boasts sectors such as packaging, leather, pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, iron and steel as well as engineering among others. In this regard, we need to work together to bring back the yesteryear glory when Bulawayo was the country’s industrial hub,” she said.
Dr Nyoni said the focus should be on bringing investments into the manufacturing sector which then benefit the retailing business.
She said it was Government’s firm belief that the Zimbabwean economy if driven by the private sector will fully recover its strength and dynamism.
“We want to have a roadmap to attract the appropriate entities. I therefore appeal to you to seize the opportunities that are abundant here in Bulawayo. His Excellency, the President always says “nyika inovakwa nevene vayo, Ilizwe lakhiwa, libuswe, likhulekelwe ngabanikazi balo”.
“I, therefore, urge you to take advantage of Bulawayo’s status as a transport and logistics hub connecting to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia via Beitbridge, Plumtree and Victoria Falls, respectively. Bulawayo, therefore, has a great potential to benefit from the Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” said Dr Nyoni.
Bulawayo which used to be the country’s industrial hub was hard hit by de-industrialisation which saw a number of companies closing while others relocated to other towns and cities like Harare during the past 10 years.
The city’s industries used to employ thousands of workers in the different sectors of the economy that includes clothing, textiles, engineering, iron and steel as well as food manufacturing.
The Government, which wants the city to regain its status of being the country’s industrial hub due to its strategic location, has been assisting companies to retool and in some cases to access working capital from financial institutions.
Minister Nyoni said it is imperative for industries to forge partnerships with local universities that have established Innovation Hubs.
President Mnangagwa has said innovation hubs and industrial parks will propel Zimbabwe’s modernisation and industrialisation through the local production of goods and services.
Universities with innovation hubs and industrial parks so far are the National University of Science and Technology, Midlands State University, University of Zimbabwe, Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), Zimbabwe Defence University and the Chinhoyi University of Technology.
The universities have responded to national challenges in many spheres.
Some ideas hatched in innovation hubs have so far led to the commissioning of the Marula processing plant at Rutenga in Mwenezi and the production of medical and industrial oxygen at a plant near Feruka in Mutare by Verify Engineering.
Minister Nyoni said she wants strong collaboration between the Government and the private sector to drive the economy hence she will maintain an open-door policy.
“I know very well that dialogue between the Government and the private sector helps to forge a strong partnership which is a necessary ingredient for industrial growth and economic prosperity,” she said.
During the engagement, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Mr Joseph Gunda said there are vast opportunities in the Matabeleland region which can be exploited.
“Matabeleland is endowed with mineral resources such as gold, coal and lithium among others,” he said.
Mr Gunda said Bulawayo has many empty industrial premises which new investors can takeover and cut on costs of establishing companies especially those that qualify to be in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs.)
“Bulawayo should have a diversified industrial base as was the case in the past. There is urgent need to revive textile and clothing manufacturing factories because we already have the skilled manpower for such factories.
“We therefore need to be assisted in re-tooling and in some cases we need working capital,” he said.
Mr Gunda said what is encouraging is that there is a Memorandum of Understanding with Italy, India and Turkey to assist the city’s companies to re-tool. — @SikhulekelaniM1