HomeBusiness DigestManufacturing sector in sharp decline

Manufacturing sector in sharp decline

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE Central Statistical Office (CSO) has painted a gloomy picture of the state of the country’s manufacturing sector.

serif”>Figures reveal that between 1990 and 1998, the country’s manufacturing sector grew by 6,6%, while between 1998 and last year the trend was reversed.

By the end of last yearthe agricultural sector had declined by 40%.

Eric Bloch, an independent economist, said much of the growth seen in the 1990s was primarily achieved in a comparatively short period between 1994 and 1997 when government positively pursued economic recovery and growth policies.

CSO figures indicate that on a comparative basis, between 1990 and last year only two sectors of the manufacturing industry grew.

These were the wood and clothing industries whose production figures rose by 162,9% and 104,4% respectively.

Between 2000 and 2003 the country experienced a massive closure of 750 firms, which led to retrenchments of workers.

This week the country’s industry representative body, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, said it would soon release its annual report on the extent of the decline of the manufacturing sector.

The study is meant to show the real state of the manufacturing sector, which has declined over the years in sympathy with the entire economy because of a trading environment.

Firms have been battling foreign currency shortages, power cuts, loss of credit lines and escalating costs of raw materials over the past four to five years.

The transport sector, which was badly affected by fuel shortages, declined by 61,8%, whilst the textile industry shrunk by 59,54%, non-metals by 52,64% and wood industry by 52,47%.

Bloch said since 1998, every facet of the manufacturing sector had shrunk almost continuously, year-on-year.

The tobacco and drink sectors declined by 44,19% and 43,47% respectively, food by 42,05 %, paper 40,41% and clothing by 8,9%.

“The reduction in manufacturing output occurred in the last two years, for prior to that, industrial contraction was relatively insignificant in extent,” Bloch said.

“This tragic development, markedly in contrast with the indisputably great prospects of industrial growth so evidenced in the 20th century, is attributable to a variety of factors. First and foremost was the destruction which characterised the manufacturing sector as government intensified its calamitous programme of land acquisition, redistribution and resettlement.”

In the past, Bloch said, agriculture accounted for 18% of the country’s gross domestic product.

“As production in agriculture became ever less, that sector required lesser production from the manufacturing sector,” he said.

“Similarly, as agricultural incomes diminished, so too did consumer spending on industrial output.”

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading