14 November 2012

Zimbabwe: WB - Use Minerals to Revive Manufacturing

THE World Bank (WB) this week called on the country to leverage its mineral resources for revival of the struggling manufacturing sector, saying other countries like Malaysia had used this strategy to grow their productive sectors.

WB economist in Zimbabwe, Nadia Piffaretti, said case studies elsewhere had revealed that it was possible for industries to benefit from a performing mining industry.

She said Zimbabwe should implement sustainable, long term plans to arrest the collapse of the manufacturing sector, which has been the major contributor to employment creation worldwide.

"Malaysia used its minerals to power up its manufacturing industry," Piffaretti told delegates at the launch of the first annual Medium-Term Plan (MTP) implementation progress report on Monday.

"The manufacturing sector here has long-term challenges. You need a driver now and that driver will be the mining sector. The mining sector is the only sector capable of autonomous growth, growth of the manufacturing sector is not there now, it may be there in the future but not now," she said.

In Malaysia, growth of the mining industry was anchored on a platform of transparency and a strong prioritisation process by government.

She said if government created the right climate for the growth of the mining industry, investment into the sector would top US$15 billion and create 30 000 new jobs annually.

She said the resultant linkages would cascade into the resurrection of the manufacturing sector.

Piffaretti said similar linkages had worked in Zambia.

The mining industry was projected to grow by 43 percent last year, one percentage point lower than the 44 percent MTP target.

The MTP says the manufacturing sector must export finished products.

It targets 80 percent capacity utilisation and to restore manufacturing exports to 50 percent of total exports by 2015.

This year, the mining industry is expected to expand by 10 percent, with the manufacturing sector now expected to grow by six percent, from an initial seven percent projection.

Zimbabwe has been unable to produce its diamonds in a transparent manner that would allow for the distribution of the wealth for the development of the entire economy.

The Ministry of Finance has said revenues from diamond sales have not been fully accounted for.

Platinum mines have also been accused of failing to fully account for several by products realised from the production of the metal.

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