INDUSTRY Minister, Mangaliso Ndlovu has revised Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector growth for 2019 down to 1% from the initially projected 2.5% growth rate owing to a host of contributory factors outside government control.
Briefing delegates at the state of industry breakfast meeting recently, Ndlovu attributed the downward projection mainly to natural disasters.
"We had initially made a projection of 2.5% which has since been revised downwards to 1% obviously because of a number of factors that have affected our economy and chief among them is the El Nino induced drought and Cyclone Idai's devastating effects.
"We also encountered a number of challenges on the currency front and more specifically from accessing the foreign currency needs for our raw materials and retooling needs.
"I have however defended our projected 2 % annual growth rate moving into 2020 and beyond. While others feel it is not ambitious enough, there is need to note that in 2017 and 2018 where I believe we did well, we only grew by just over 1.3%.
"So realistically, if we have a target of 2%, I believe we would have done well although there will be scope to do more than the projections," he said.
Ndlovu also bemoaned high inflationary rates but expressed optimism that around October this year, a downward trend will be experienced and this will lead to stability.
He said that the investment approvals presided over so far, indicated the confidence which potential investors have in the country.
"In 2018, we approved 28 companies and in the first quarter of 2019, we managed to approve 32 companies. The total investments injected in 2018 were worth US$210 while for the first quarter of 2019 are worth US$50 million," Ndlovu said.
The minister urged the county's business community to pay up various amounts owed to power authority and also raised concern over the low industrial capacity utilisation which is around 60%.
Ndovu said if the recently launched Zimbabwe National Industrial Policy was implemented, capacity utilisation is envisaged to reach 80%.
"My ministry is currently working with provincial structures to come up with provincial industrial strategies in line with devolution and such strategies should be a result of a consultative process," he said.