INDUSTRY and Commerce minister, Sekai Nzenza, has unveiled a massive industrialisation plan which seeks to transform Zimbabwe’s 94 manufacturing and commercial sub-sectors into a mouthwatering US$8 billion economy in the next three years.
The programme is in line with the Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) and the Comesa Industrialisation Strategy (2017-2025), which are anchored on value-chain development and beneficiation.
According to the document plan submitted to Cabinet by Nzenza, seen by the Zimbabwe Independent this week, the plan focuses mainly on sectors like agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, wholesale and retail trade which, although capital intensive, are high on returns.
Nzenza is upbeat that local industrial, manufacturing and commerce sectors which are currently operating at below 30% capacity utilisation according to official statistics could be set for a major rebound if the plan is carefully and logically executed.
Currently, the sector accounts for 16,9% Gross Domestic Product and a labour force of 68 300 and is beset by myriad challenges which include inadequate energy, infrastructure, foreign currency shortages, antiquated equipment and high production costs.
It is yet to be seen if the ambitious plan will yield any fruit.
In the document, Nzenza says the success of this roadmap is hinged on robust engagements with all stakeholders and mobilisation of both local and foreign currency, commitment and buy-in from provincial structures in spearheading rural industrialisation which has already commenced to facilitate and promote the development of sustainable, innovative and globally competitive individual and commercial enterprises.
“In order to attain the National Vision of becoming an upper Middle Income Economy by 2030, the industrial sector is one of the key strategic pillars, whose role is to increase manufacturing sector value-added products, generate foreign currency and create employment.
“The local industrial, manufacturing and commerce sectors are facing the recent impact of Covid-19 which has disrupted global value chains and affected employment as companies reduced production. Robust implementation of the national and regional industrialisation policies and strategies will be accelerated and reposition the industrial and commercial sectors to contribute to the US$8 billion target,” the document reads.
“Ongoing and planned investments include food, drink and tobacco. There are 23 ongoing and planned investments worth US$545 million. A total of 11 have been commissioned, four ongoing and eight planned investments. Textiles, clothing and leather investments, worth US$32 million are also planned. A total of five projects have been operationalised and three are still ongoing. There are six ongoing investments in timber, wood and furniture sectors worth US$14 million,” Nzenza said in the document.
The document also indicates that it is projecting to build a US$1,5 billion metal and electricals manufacturing industry, of which three investments have already been operationalised and while five planned investments are underway, including the seemingly impossible task of reviving the derelict Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel).
Nzenza also envisages a booming US$85 million motor industry being established by 2023 and says already, three projects are ongoing and one is being planned.
According to the document, nine investment deals in the chemicals industry were recently operationalised while two are ongoing and five are being planned. Together, they are worth US$700 million.
On pharmaceuticals and fertilisers two are operationalised, one greenfield and four planned investments, valued at US$207 million.
The packaging sector has four investments operationalised, three ongoing and three planned worth US$41 million.
The document also spells out an ambitious agro-based rural industrialisation effort which will include the Kanyemba trade logistics hub, which is regarded as a model for rural industrialisation complimenting the devolution agenda.
Tugwi-Mukosi is earmarked for projects which include sugar and cotton industry expansion through irrigation projects, fish canning and beef production.
“Community Share Ownership’s Trusts will be the vehicles for accelerated rural industrialisation,” Nzenza projected.