THE Industrial Development Corporation Zimbabwe (IDCZ), a conglomeration of key State firms producing important products required for the agricultural sector, is undergoing a major transformation.
Its key units like Dorowa Minerals and Zimphos are set to be transformed into efficient outfits with capacity to feed phosphate, limestone and other key products into the domestic market.
Exports of some products have already begun, and the new board led by Winston Makamure (WM), which came into office in July, says proceeds from foreign trade are being reinvested to revamp the State-run operation’s capacity to serve the markets.
The board is also determined to play its part in helping the government fulfil its devolution ambitions.
In this interview with our business reporter, Freeman Makopa, Makamure says developments at Dorowa and other firms represent the beginning of bigger things to come.
‘Here is how their discussion turned up;
Fact file: Winston Makamure
- Commissioned officer from the Nigerian Defence Academy (short services combatant course), commissioned on the 10th of December 1983 by Major General Muhammadu Buhari
- Served in the Zimbabwe National Army for 10 years.
- Worked for Oracle, sound micro-systems.
- Consultant for Botswana government IT Ministry of Health
- Worked for KPMG as a senior technology consultant.
- Worked for Standard Chartered Bank in the UK and Singapore in the business financial transactions.
- An IT consultant who has been involved at the inception of EcoCash.
FM: Are all IDCZ units operational? Please share with us how much you will be investing into the businesses this year?
WM: What happened is when we came in as a new board there were companies which had stopped operating for various reasons and I think everyone understands what we have gone through and what IDC at some stage went through.
We then said okay, what is the core and primary need for our economy.
Our economy is agro-based, so one of the things we need to do is to make sure that the resources which are required for agriculture are available and affordable.
Now as we appreciate, the value chain for fertiliser starts at Dorowa Minerals, Zimphos and to other players.
We said we need to focus on that.
Looking at our import bill, you say how much are we importing and what is it which we need to put in place to substitute imports.
We have the resources, but where we have capacity let us not import, let us beneficiate and make sure we do not waste foreign currency, which we need somewhere else.
There are quite a number of things which we have done at Dorowa.
We have ramped up production.
I think it was about 5 000 tonnes per month.
We have gone up to 15 000 tonnes per month in terms of phosphate production.
Phosphate is the basic raw material we need in terms of producing Zesa Compund D Fertilisers.
In the same vein we are just not doing the phosphates.
We then looked and said whatever project we have, we need to derive value from there.
We have got magnetite as a by-product of phosphate production.
Initially, in terms of magnetite, we were producing 1 000 tonnes per month.
Just changing procedures and processes, without investing into any equipment we managed to increase magnetite output to 2 000 tonnes per month.
FM: Tell us about the challenges you faced in trying to turn around Dorowa, and how you solved them?
WM: Energy is a challenge.
Dorowa was having a challenge in terms of the capacity of the power line into the operation, so that we can be operational throughout when we mine and process the phosphate.
We were having power outages from Thursday until Monday.
This is for four days.
We then said here is magnetite.
We have ramped up its production.
Our magnetite customers are actually foreign, which means we were generating a bit of foreign currency.
We then ploughed it back and worked with Zesa to upgrade the powerline from Rusape to Dorowa.
We no longer have power outages.
But here is what also happened.
Because we work within communities that ramp up of power benefited the community.
FM: You mention rural industrialisation. Do you have any strategies that you are pursuing to boost the industrialisation of the rural economy?
WM: One of our plans is rural industrialisation and supporting the development of industries.
Basically, that ramping up of production is also targeting improving corporate social responsibility within the Dorowa communities in Rusape and in Manicaland.
The other major part is rural industrialisation in line with devolution policy.
FM: Tell us about the resource at Dorowa. How long will it last?
WM: The phosphate deposits are massive at Dorowa. For us to meet national demand, we definitely need to ramp up production. But the plant which we have at Dorowa is very old. I think the last time there was major plant maintenance was in 1975.
We are making do with that but the next thing is we now need to move with technology. The money which we are getting from magnetite exports has started ramping up magnetite production.
I think by July we should be producing 6 000 tonnes per month. Now, 6 000 tonnes per month gives us US$1,5 million per month. That is what we will now start generating.
FM: What will be your next step? Is this ramping up of production part of the U$13 million plant upgrading project which you announced last year?
WM: Yes, it is part of that.
For us to be fully self-sufficient in terms of Compound D fertilisers, we need to move away from old antiquated equipment.
We need to bring new technology.
We need to put up a completely new plant.
The new plant and everything will require US$70 million. We have already started talks.
I think the process has actually moved quite a stage.
This is the total we require for completely new equipment so that we efficiently process the resource and beneficiate it.
The initial stages of the project have already started. It is a process which is being finalised in terms of timeframes and everything.
FM: Apart from Dorowa, what are your plans for the other IDCZ units?
WM: We have other companies and on this I will just touch on a few because there are a lot of companies. Of interest, we were now importing limestone but we have got huge deposits of lime in Rushinga.
Our lime is one of the best and clearest lime within the region, and in the world.
We managed to resuscitate an old plant and we acquired another plant so in line with the devolution rural industrialisation policy, we are empowering all provinces.
We are saying in line with devolution, let’s go there and empower people.
We must establish industries there, instead of us taking the resource from Rushinga and crushing it in Graniteside, Harare, or in Bulawayo.
We are saying we must do everything there because it benefits communities and develops their areas.
It also reduces the cost of you moving raw material in order to process it in Harare.
We have resuscitated G&W in Rushinga and we are now crushing, bagging and having the finished product there in Rushinga.
Rushinga now has a fully-fledged limestone production plant.
And there are a number of by-products from lime.
That was our first plan in terms of rural industrialisation, in line with devolution.
All by-products leave Rushinga as finished products. Communities in Rushinga now have an industry.
To achieve that, we had to go through the same process (as Dorowa) because energy is required for upgrading the powerline.
All these projects were funded through internally-generated resources. We have generated money by exporting magnetite but we have reinvested it.
But we want to make it bigger.
We are producing lime which is enough for what we need at the moment.
Right now, our farmers have enough lime.
FM: How much lime are we producing as a country?
WM: We are producing 80 000 tonnes but our current capacity is 100 000 tonnes. Our target is to ramp it up to 300 000 tonnes so that will be enough for Zimbabwe and for the export market. Our target by the end of this year is we should have at least 85% of our provinces with a key industry.
FM: How are you going to achieve this?
WM: We look at all facets of the economy.
In Masvingo for example, we are looking at Tugwi Mukosi, which is rich with abundant opportunities.
We are putting together fish farming.
We have already got young people there. We are going to help them to grow.
We are going to introduce fish farming because fish is good for our own national consumption.
We are well known for having quality fish for export within the region and globally.