Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent
REDCLIFF-based refractories manufacturer, Lamcast Private Limited, has set its focus on penetrating the regional export market as part of its long term expansion drive.
Formed in 2001, Lamcast trades in bricks for furnaces, ladles and teeming requirements among other products.
In an interview, the company’s director, Mr Lamulani Sithole, said they were aiming to open up branches in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi among others.
“We are trying to open up avenues in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi. We are already doing a little bit of exports in Botswana as we try to break into the regional market and generate the much needed foreign currency into the country,” he said.
“Your first customers each time are your neighbours before you reach out to everyone else. That is our intention to reach out to Comesa before we move to European market.”
Mr Sithole, however, bemoaned the prevailing price distortions on the market, which he said was posing a big challenge saying companies always find it difficult to pay in United State Dollars.
“Our biggest challenge is the pricing systems as most companies do not want to pay in United State Dollars. That becomes a challenge because how do we price our goods in bond notes,” he said.
The collapse of Ziscosteel also impacted negatively on the local manufacturing industry as companies have to import critical steel related raw materials.
“The fact that Ziscosteel is non-functional has seen the manufacturing industry importing more. We are instead exporting semi-finished products instead of finished products. As manufacturers we have to be very competitive and be more of exporters of finished products,” he said.
Mr Sithole hailed Government’s efforts of creating an investor friendly environment but quickly urged the authorities to ensure that loans were not accessed by companies in the Harare only.
“We hail Government policies, which I think are investor friendly. Government has created a conducive environment for full operations. We are operating in a free market. But we should all have access to loans meant for small scale business enterprises, which are currently benefitting those in Harare. They should also be accessed by people like us in other places,” he said.
Mr Sithole said banks have come in handy despite their huge demands and unfavourable interest rates.
On national economic recovery, Mr Sithole said it was not viable for the country to solely rely on US Dollars as legal tender saying coming up with a local currency would do the trick.
“I don’t think using US dollars as a currency will do us any good, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot. We have to have our own currency which we use. US dollars are in most cases looted by foreign investors,” he said.
The company has a staff complement of 40.