ZIMBABWE has anchored its industrialisation policy in readiness to tap into the vast investment and trade opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and what remains is scaling up private sector awareness and buy in, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, said yesterday.
In a presentation on ‘Zimbabwe’s Industrial Preparedness on AfCFTA)’ during a trade and investment opportunities conference organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) in Bulawayo, Dr Nzenza said consolidating domestic and regional value chain drive was critical in building resilient and sustainable industries as opposed to reliance on exporting raw materials.
She told delegates, who included AfCFTA secretary general, Mr Wamkele Mene, and industry and commerce executives, that upscaling intra-regional trade was at the heart of the African Union (AU) blueprint and masterplan popularly known as “Agenda 2063-The Africa We Want”, to which Zimbabwe fully subscribes.
Dr Nzenza said the AFCTA is not only a subject of Government policy but is the reality of industry hence the measurement of Zimbabwe’s preparedness to embrace the historic trade deal must be benchmarked on private sector-led growth.
“The Africa we want is an Africa that trades with itself. The history of industrialisation is connected in Africa, the future of industrialisation is ours to collectively design,” she said.
“By way of policy foundation, Zimbabwe is ready for the AFCTA. What remains is private sector awareness and buy-in. I, therefore, challenge AFCTA, ZNCC and other business bodies to conduct workshops and expositions to ensure full and active participation of the private sector in the trade initiative.”
The minister said driving robust private sector-led growth must take centre stage as it acknowledges the mutual aspirations and collective responsibility between governments, development finance institutions, regional and international bodies in economic development.
In the context of Zimbabwe, she said President Mnangagwa has already undertaken a whole of Government approach augmented by collaboration with the private sector.
“In pursuit of that, Zimbabwe has undertaken sector specific strategies under His Excellency’s mantra ‘moving the economy up the value chains’ as espoused in the National Development Strategy (NDS1),” she said.
“This has registered a success story for the Zimbabwean industry with increased capacity utilization, investment and export-oriented growth.
“This growth trajectory evidenced by increase in investments, capacity utilization and local products is the success story of President Mnangagwa’s policy interventions with particular reference to NDS1 and the Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy.”
In order to benefit more from regional trade, Dr Nzenza there was a need for local industries to produce more products while embracing innovation, high quality and globally competitive standards.
She commended local industries’ resilience throughout and beyond the Covid-19 period during which businesses heeded Government’s call for enhanced production, productivity and profitability.
The minister commended ZNCC for organising the highly interactive event, which ran under the theme: “Bolstering resilience and innovativeness for sustainable growth” saying its focus was directly aligned with ongoing discourse regionally and internationally.
To further buttress the industrialisation agenda, Dr Nzenza is on record calling upon the AU secretariat to facilitate undertaking value chain mapping for Africa in order for regional countries to tap into each other’s strengths as the continent industrializes.
She made reference to a joint pilot project between Zimbabwe and Zambia on the establishment of a Common Agro-Industrial Park, which is based on comparative advantages in the agricultural sector as a starting point for strengthening cooperation.
“This will be the first of its kind in Southern Africa. This is a flagship project, which we want to replicate with more African countries as we exploit the opportunities under the AFCTA,” said Dr Nzenza.
“As the Minister of Industry and Commerce, let me take this opportunity to renew Zimbabwe’s commitment to the implementation of the AFCTA.”