Nqobile Tshili/Thandiwe Katinhimure, Business Reporters
BRITISH Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Catriona Laing says the future of Bulawayo’s economy lies in creative industries as she called on the city to stop trying to resuscitate comatose factories that are no longer relevant to the future.
Ambassador Laing made the remarks last Thursday in Bulawayo where she had visited the city to engage with private sector players and civic society organisations. She said Bulawayo should focus on creative centres as its future industries instead of trying to revive some of its collapsed companies.
“I think Bulawayo needs to leave behind the industrialisation of the past and look to the future, build on the creative industries’ tech hubs, a different kind of an economy than the one you had before,” said Amb Laing.
She said her visit to TechVillage, a place where creative young people converge to share ideas was an eye opener and could give birth to the future of the city’s industries.
“We went to see the TechVillage and what we saw is amazing. We saw incredible young entrepreneurs doing all sorts of interesting things,” she said.
“We have young entrepreneurs coming up with renewal energies, incredible interesting inventions, young women doing online news services, another one doing bracelets for children in case they are abducted. The bracelet will detect fear and these are just few examples.”
Amb Laing has added her voice to an already ongoing debate on how the city can reclaim its past glory as the industrial hub for the country. Bulawayo, through the Office of the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, has already come up with a 17-member think-tank to look into the issue of how the city can revive its industries.
To that end, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Matabeleland chamber president, Mr Joseph Gunda, has exhorted industry captains to work closely with tertiary learning institutions and tap into research-based innovative solutions. He challenged companies in Bulawayo to invest in research whose results would boost productive capacities.
“CZI has encouraged all institutions to bring upfront problems hindering them to tailor into investing into engineering so that they are addressed and help bridge the gap between them and engineering education,” Mr Gunda said.
“Most companies have been facing high production costs yet engineers are the ones who are supposed to come in and provide solutions and innovations to help reduce production costs.”
National University of Science and Technology (Nust) Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Dumisani John Hlatshwayo said the problem was lack of synergies between industry and academia.
“Big companies do not believe in local content as engineers from Zimbabwe are not recognised and they end up in the diaspora to work for diaspora companies. These companies are also the ones which are given tenders to do jobs in Zimbabwe,” he said. Dr Hlatshwayo also called on universities to come up with innovations and sell them to industry. “Universities must come up with solutions meant for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and help them advance their projects and that way they will grow, he said. — @nqotshili/@thandyfeminine