IN a vote of confidence in the country’s investment climate, Varun Beverages, the second-largest bottling company of PepsiCo’s beverages in the world outside the United States, has added another line of production at its Harare plant that will produce 60 million bottles and cans a month for local consumption and export.
Speaking at the official opening of the Varun Beverages Zimbabwe additional plant, bottled water, and cordial production line yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the project by the Indian company dovetails with Zimbabwe’s National Industrial Policy that seeks to promote local production of goods and commodities towards decreasing reliance on imports.
“I challenge other private sector players to take advantage of our growing economy, broadening income levels and the resultant markets to increase their investments as we move the economy up the value chains,” said the President.
Describing the commissioning of the additional plant, bottled water, and cordial production as yet another milestone, itself a fulfilment of Varun Beverages’ pledge in December 2019 to expand production, the President said business confidence in the country is growing.
“I am delighted that you have fulfilled the pledge you made at that event and accordingly expanded the plant in line with your business growth strategy. My Administration welcomes this development which is an indicator of the growing confidence this entity has in our national economic trajectory and market.
“The operationalisation of the production line and setting up of an additional plant is most timely not only in respect of satisfying the ever-growing local market but also with regards to the potential in the regional market.
“The attendant increase in production will equally create more employment opportunities, increase household incomes and help in meeting the national demand for beverages. I, thus, commend Varun Beverages Zimbabwe for this forward-looking and bold business decision to invest in our jurisdiction.”
Since President Mnangagwa came to power in 2017, Zimbabwe has experienced a major transformation in its political and economic environment, with his administration bringing renewed confidence as world businesses heeded his “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra.
Consequently, major companies have been coming into Zimbabwe where the ease of doing business has significantly improved and yesterday President Mnangagwa encouraged Varun Beverages to play an ambassadorial role in selling brand-Zimbabwe.
“It is encouraging to note the tremendous growth that Varun Beverages Zimbabwe has undergone since 2018. This has seen the unveiling of this seventh production line which I am commissioning today. The capacity of the new plant to produce 400 bottles per minute of bottled water and cordials is commendable.
“As established investors in our country, I call upon you to be good ambassadors and tell other potential investors about the prevailing conducive business and investment climate and prospects in Zimbabwe. My Administration thus stands ready to welcome and facilitate more investments,” the President said.
As a listening leader, President Mnangagwa urged business stakeholders, through their networks and various platforms, to constantly give feedback on how the country can improve the business environment.
“By doing so, the gains achieved so far under the Second Republic will be consolidated and further inform the ongoing discourse on reforming and opening up of the economy for the benefit of both the private sector and the people of Zimbabwe as a whole.”
The company, which exports to neighbouring countries, is already earning Zimbabwe foreign currency while at the same time creating employment directly for 2 000 people and indirectly for more than 20 000.
The President said the private sector, which is key to the national aspirations of becoming an upper-middle income economy by 2030 through the implementation of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), should take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“Let me take this opportunity to challenge the private sector to be more innovative and continue to adopt and adapt new technologies and marketing strategies to improve business competitiveness. All sectors of the economy must equally take advantage of Zimbabwe’s existing trade arrangements within Africa and beyond. The operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with a market of more than 1,2 billion people must be fully utilised and exploited,” he said.
On his part, chairman of R J Corp Mr R Jaipurira, the company that owns Varun Beverages Zimbabwe, said the country is an investment destination of choice.
“With this new expansion, we will increase our export of beverages, preforms and plastic closures to Zambia, DRC, Botswana, Malawi, and other neighbouring countries, which will bring in sizable foreign exchange into Zimbabwe.
“We promise you that no external or internal factors will ever be able to derail us from the path of responsible environmental socio-economic business practices . . . All the above-mentioned achievements are not possible without your support. You are the true testament of how a great nation and its citizens perform,” he said.
The President was accompanied by Defence and War Veterans Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekesai Nzenza, Minister of State for Harare Metropolitan Province and Devolution Engineer Oliver Chidau and Zanu PF Politburo member Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa.