Bulawayo — A Zimbabwean corporate consultant has urged embattled State-owned meat processor, the Cold Storage Company (CSC),to tap into vast opportunities that exist for the beef industry in South Sudan to turn around its fortunes.
Africa Corporate Advisors director, Marlvin Rusike, said during an address of captains of industry and commerce in Bulawayo at a Zimtrade breakfast meeting that Africa's newest nation presented significant trade and investment opportunities to Zimbabwean companies, and that the CSC, once the largest meat processor in Zimbabwe, could take advantage of this to turnaround.
The consultant was part of the delegation that visited the central African country recently to explore business opportunities.
He said there were over 12 million cattle in South Sudan compared to five million in Zimbabwe; CSC could therefore penetrate that market and set up abattoirs which were currently non-existent.
"There are almost 13 million cattle but they are not slaughtering them; they import meat from Uganda," said Rusike.
"Butcheries are non-existent and people buy meat from an open market," he added.
He said the goat population of 25 million, together with the large cattle population meant a bigger opportunity for any beef processor as meat was in abundance.
"There is a lot of meat there," he emphasised.
CSC used to play a leading role in the processing and marketing of Zimbabwe's beef since its inception in 1937. However, it has fallen on hard times since 2000 owing to a plethora of challenges, among them the under-utilisation of capacity, failure to raise adequate working capital, and a huge foreign debt.
The parastatal recently messed up a deal with the Botswana Meat Commission that was expected to improve its productivity after it failed to remit part of the funds realised from selling cattle under an agreement signed between the Zimbabwe and Botswana governments.
The Memorandum of Unde-rstanding between the two countries was such that Botswana would export 30 000 cattle to Zimbabwe for direct slaughter with CSC liable for selling the meat and getting a certain percentage from the sales.
However, the parastatal's management misappropriated funds leading to Botswana pulling out of the deal.
Rusike said the major challenges of doing business in South Sudan included lack of established entrepreneurs, limited warehouse facilities and poor roads, among others.