Experts hail new industrial development policy

The new Zimbabwe National Industrial Development Policy being crafted by Government should ride on the gains made under the previous policy while taking into account areas that the country has comparative advantages in, stakeholders that participated at a consultative workshop said yesterday.

The new ZNIDP will run from this year to 2030 following the lapse of the previous policy that was implemented between 2019-2023.

The vision of the new policy is to: “Accelerate transition from a primary commodity-based economy towards a technologically advanced and diversified industry and commerce by 2030.”

In his presentation, prominent academic, Professor Mandivamba Rukuni said a review of the current policy was necessary.

“An analysis of the performance of the current industrialisation policy is usually a quarter of a (new) policy. Since the last policy which was in 2019, you will review, how did that perform? What did we do well, and by the time you finish reviewing you will come up with three things, what is it that was good or correct that we will continue doing, what is it that we were doing wrong that we definitely have to stop and what is it that we were not doing that we have to do,” Prof Rukuni said.

He added that it was important that the new policy promotes rural industrialisation and labour-intensive industries that will promote mass production, mass processing and mass consumption.

Another economist, Professor Ashok Chakravarti said it was important for Government to target higher economic growth rates of up to 10 percent if the goal of becoming an upper-middle income economy by 2030 is to be achieved.

“Industrialisation is a deliberate policy and it has to be deliberate otherwise you are not going to have it (economic growth). We have to exploit our comparative advantage and our comparative advantage is based on origin and when we talk about origin it means that product has to have some origin in the country, it has to have something concrete which this country produces,” Prof Chakravarti said.

He added that analysis done in the past two years by various entities that include, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion, the World Bank and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries among others, showed that Zimbabwe had comparative advantage in edible fruits and nuts and its processing, wood and furniture, coffee, tea and its processing, leather, tobacco processing, cotton and nickel, chrome processing, ferrochrome, platinum, lithium and processing, iron and steel and processing.

He bemoaned the continued attention being given to some industries established during the colonial era which were no longer relevant to the country’s needs.

CZI chief executive officer, Mrs Sekai Kuvarika Government needed to be ambitious in its targets of growth.

“If you look at the past industrial policy the growth rate was two percent per annum and the current policy is also proposing two percent and we don’t believe that is a shift towards a future that is really looking at phenomenal growth to take us to an upper middle-income economy,” she said.

Mrs Kuvarika, however, said they were ready to work with Government to achieve the nation’s goal.

“We are here to work with the Ministry (of Industry and Commerce) in whatever way we can so that we can achieve higher target of growth in our economy,” she said.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, Mr Takunda Mugaga said: “What are the opportunities in Zimbabwe? It should come out clearly in the policy. Let’s identify labour intensive industries in the policy.”

Speaking in an interview, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister, Professor Amon Murwira said the new policy was a result of President Mnangagwa’s far-sightedness as espoused in Vision 2030.

“This policy is about how do we make the Vision work and get realised, it gets realised through industrialisation. So our policies have to point towards what His Excellency is doing, so innovation and industrialisation as a way to achieve Vision 2030 is exactly what we are discussing here and this policy will be the hallmark of how Zimbabwe will become, because it’s good to have visions but it’s best to become, so becoming is through policies like this and through actions on the ground that are enabled by this policy,” he said.

In his prepared remarks, the minister had said it was Government’s wish that the economy be dominated by local innovations.

“Our desire is for endogenous industry pipeline to have a relatively bigger pipeline than the exogenous industry pipeline. It is through the triple helix model which comprises Government, academia/science institutions and industry that we could achieve this and all this must be based on our heritage,” Prof Murwira said.

Under the first ZNIDP, the country failed to meet some of its targets due to various factors that include a lack of implementation framework and monitoring and evaluation mechanism, Covid-19, power shortages, supply chain disruptions due to the Russia and Ukraine conflict and a lack of lines of credit among others.

Successes were recorded in the development of sectoral strategies in pharmaceuticals, engineering, iron and steel, leather, dairy and fertiliser roadmaps.

Because of these strategies the pharmaceuticals sector capacity utilisation increased from 12 percent in 2021 to 45 percent in 2022, the dairy sector produced 99 million litres of milk in 2022 up from 76 litres in 2021.

Shelf occupancy of locally produced products in supermarkets increased from about 50 percent in 2019 to 85 percent in 2022.

According to the CZI, 47 percent of companies upgraded machinery while several others were opened and others re-opened.

Innovation hubs and industrial parks were also developed during the period under review.

The new policy is anchored on corporate social responsibility, economic empowerment, rural industrialisation, research, development and innovation, macro-economic environment and stakeholder corporation, standards and quality, environmental sustainability and adoption of new technologies.

Herald

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