26 April 2013

Zimbabwe: ZITF: Time to Breathe Life Into Our Business Sector


The wave of optimism that has engulfed Zimbabwe's economy and its future prospects seems to be reflecting substantially at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair that began in Bulawayo on Monday. The fact that countries such as South Africa have increased their

level of participation from 34 to 47 firms while others like Tanzania have returned after a few years' absence is indicative of the growing interest and the potential this country has in the regional and international trade and investment matrix.

Reports that investor interest has grown phenomenally can only point to the fact that Zimbabwe is consolidating its economic revival while potential exists to go to the next level.

The ZITF is naturally a barometer used to measure the strength or otherwise of the economy and the way it is viewed by external partners.

China and SA are the largest participants this year while Ghana is a new entrant that could also not ignore the opportunities that Zimbabwe presents.

The country may be at the bottom of the World Bank Doing Business Index but it is certainly being viewed as a buy, by investors and trading partners.

The stranglehold of the illegal sanctions imposed by the West is certainly falling off as the dynamics to the economic game change.

Zimbabwe is a country the region and its international peers could not afford to ignore for long.

Geographically, this country is at the centre of trade within the region while it would not make strategic sense for any investor intending to do business in this part of the continent to leave out this country.

The ZITF has always been a platform through which local firms can interact among themselves and with potential partners from the continent and beyond.

Admittedly the event had taken a knock a few years ago due to the effects of sanctions and other exogenous factors that constricted its survival but the situation is slowly thawing.

This explains, in part, the growing interest and participation at the ZITF.

It is a platform that business should take advantage of to showcase products and services while at the same time vindicating themselves from the notion that doing business in this country is a dangerous expedition.

The mining sector, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, among others, are spearheading an economic revolution set to catapult the country to the top rankings as a force to reckon with.

The ZITF presents a platform to make this statement louder and clearer.

Now in its 54th year, the business fair has come of age and we can only hope that local firms will seize the opportunity to clinch business deals that will strengthen their performance.

Zimbabwean firms have been struggling to recapitalise hence this is an opportunity they cannot afford to waste.

This country is endowed with immense natural resources and a skilled manpower that should entice business partners and financiers to prop industry.

In a highly competitive global environment, it is incumbent upon local firms to market themselves aggressively to draw the attention of investors or trading partners with the wherewithal to inject the requisite capital.

ZITF also provides a platform for technology and skills transfer as firms learn from each other on the most effective and efficient ways of doing business.

The re-energised ZITF, should yield results that will leave a lasting impression on this country's economic landscape.

The business meetings being held outside the exhibitions should give Zimbabwe the platform to market itself as a trade and investment destination of note.

On the first day of the exhibition some firms were already talking of deals that they had clinched, an indication that by the time the fair comes to an end, Zimbabwe will be telling a different story.

The tourism industry should also maximise on the opportunity to put itself in right standing with visitors and investors ahead of the UNWTO General Assembly slated for August.

Attracting new business partners via ZITF will certainly help the tourism industry in its preparation for the meeting.

The host, Bulawayo, should also find impetus in hosting such an event and pursue opportunities to re-invigorate its industry.

There has been much murmuring and crying foul from that part of the country but ZITF presents a golden opportunity to bring life back to firms in Zimbabwe's second largest city.

We commend Vice President Joice Mujuru for encouraging firms to export value-added products instead of raw materials.

This is one avenue through which this country can generate substantial earnings. The international market has become a highly competitive arena where only the fittest can survive. This means primary goods exporters will always be on the receiving end in terms of poor prices and other vagaries of trade.

Business should take heed and begin to act on the VP's advice.

Her call for captains of industry to work closely in resuscitating downstream industries should not be ignored if the country is to register sustainable economic growth.

Our economy is headed the right way and all efforts should be directed towards consolidating this drive.

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