Businesses should produce goods of high quality and take advantage of alternative markets to boost their operations for the benefit of communities, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza told a recent Women’s Business Leadership Roundtable.
She noted the importance of the recently-agreed African Continental Free Trade Area, which seeks to boost intra-Africa trade. The World Bank believes that if implemented fully, the AfCFTA has potential boost continental income by 7 percent or US$450 billion, speed up wage growth for women, and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035.
Dr Nzenza said Zimbabwe also continued to actively participate in the Common Market for East and South Africa (Comesa) and in SADC, a development that ensures huge markets for local businesspeople.
The Government continued to make deliberate efforts to enlarge access to other global and regional markets through other bilateral and multilateral engagements. Once companies have large markets, they become competitive by reducing production costs through increased capacity utilisation.
“The provision of alternative markets should be fully exploited as it benefits the business community and the nation at large,” she said. “In order to fully harness and explore the opportunities that come with such noble interventions, I call upon you to produce high quality products that meet the continent’s expectations.
“In this regard, the Ministry is coming up with a national quality infrastructure policy which is expected to address issues of quality and standards.”
A significant component of the manufacturing sector has been operating with antiquated machinery and the Government came up with a comprehensive re-tooling strategy for industry, taking intro cognisant the fourth industrial revolution, to ensure quality products were produced.
In the same vein, since 2016 the Government, through Statutory Instrument 6 of 2016, exempts customs duty payments and offers VAT deferment on the import of capital equipment.
Dr Nzenza said the interventions facilitate the re-tooling of industries by making it easier to replace obsolete equipment and facilitated new investments.
Zimbabwe has a highly diversified industrial sector consisting of 94 sub-sectors that include food, drink, and tobacco, clothing and textiles, wood and furniture; leather and footwear among others.
She was pleased to see women occupying spaces in all those areas. “It is my deepest desire that we find more women occupying these and more spaces in the industry. Our role is to promote and sustain the business community through the implementation of policies that provide a conducive environment for business.
“We launched the Zimbabwe National Industrialisation Development Policy, which is premised upon the deliberate decision taken by the Government to open the country for business, modernise, industrialise and promote investment, with the ultimate goal attaining broad-based economic empowerment, inclusive economic growth and employment creation.
“In that regard, Women in Business are urged to be innovative and make use of modern technologies to push forward industrialisation. Technological advancement and innovation are key to improving productivity and competitiveness of locally manufactured products,” said Dr Nzenza.
Government is keen to build policies to strengthen science, technology transfer and innovation systems through collaboration involving itself, development partners, firms and learning and research institutions.
To ensure that Zimbabwe produces competitive goods and services, Government offers incentives to stimulate innovation to support promising technological or scientific fields.
Government, through the Industrial Development Corporation is making strides in assisting companies with funding for viable projects. Public-private research institutes receive support from the Government, including the Scientific and Industrial Research Development Centre, to push forward the creation of a strong knowledge base and establish a strong research and innovation network.
Dr Nzenza said the Government urges women to get in the habit of networking and attending business chambers so that they do not miss out on trends.