Zimbabwe and India yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a $2,92 million grant for the supply of additional machinery for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the Indo - Zimbabwe project.
The Indo-Zimbabwe project, which was established in 2006, has previously received a $5 million grant from India to support the development of SMEs in the country.
But in August 2016, it became apparent that there was need to upgrade the technology being used by SMEs covered under the project, as well as getting new machinery.
Speaking during the signing ceremony in Harare yesterday, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Dr Mike Bimha, said the $2,92 million grant is expected to also support the training of local personnel, repair and maintenance of old and new machinery for three years.
"The ministry submitted a proposal to the tune of $2,92 million in the form of a grant to cover the supply of additional machinery and equipment, training of Zimbabwean personnel and repair and maintenance of the old and new machinery for a period of three years.
"The proposal was considered and approved by the Government of India. This has led to the signing of the MoU . . ." said Dr Bimha.
Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rungsung Masakui, who signed on behalf of his government, said the additional grant dovetails with Government's thrust to revive the economy.
". . . this is also in consonance with the objective of the new dispensation under the leadership of His Excellency ED Mnangagwa to capacitate and resuscitate industry in Zimbabwe.
"India is happy to be a part of this endeavour," said Ambassador Masakui.
There are 17 Indo - Zimbabwe Technology Centres across the country.
Eleven of them are earmarked to benefit from the $2,92 million grant.
The centres targeted to benefit include the one situated at the Harare Institute of Technology, the Bulawayo Polytechnic and common facility centres at Marondera, Lupane, Chinhoyi, Chimanimani, Plumtree, Gutu, Bindura, Gwelutshena and Gokwe.
Ambassador Masakui said India was committed to the friendship between the two countries.
He said he would work towards improving the multi-faceted relations that include technical and economic cooperation for mutual benefits.
Dr Bimha said Zimbabwe was grateful for the support it continues to receive from India, particularly towards the development of SMEs in the country.
He added that they are looking forward to partnering HMT India - the company implementing the Indo-Zimbabwe project grant - as efforts to upgrade technology gather momentum.
So far, several achievements have been made since the start of the Indo-Zimbabwe project, which include skills upgrading, improved quality of products, import substitution, SME linkages, rural industrialisation and the offering of services by SMEs to industry for a fee.
Funds raised from offering services to industry are channelled towards meeting operational costs of the centres, thereby reducing the burden on fiscus.