BULAWAYO is gradually reclaiming its status as the country's manufacturing hub with several industries exhibiting resilience amid improved output and focus on exports, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza said yesterday.
Coming from a background of closure of companies and loss of jobs experienced in the last two decades, the second largest city is now focused on revitalising its key industries, guided by the value chain model.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo, Dr Nzenza said the manufacturing sector as a whole was embracing technology and modernisation.
Aided by fiscal and monetary policy support interventions by the Government, these have assisted local industries to realise a repeat jump in capacity utilisation from 36 percent in 2019 to 47 percent in 2020 and 54 percent in the second quarter of 202, according to CZI.
With output continuing to increase and businesses realising profitability, industry experts now project the capacity utilisation would hit above 61 percent by year-end.
Dr Nzenza said Bulawayo, in particular, was also making positive advances in transforming its industry and contributing significantly to the mainstream economy.
"Bulawayo was once a hub of industry. Right now, it's on the road to growth as shown by the economic growth trajectory, which the Second Republic under the leadership of His Excellency ED Mnangagwa is making," said Dr Nzenza.
"A few months ago, you had a tour of companies in Bulawayo and some of these were showcasing production in agro-processing. You were able to witness companies that are producing hardware, solar panels and stoves. It was quite clear that there is growing competition."
Established Bulawayo industries such as PPC Zimbabwe, United Refineries Limited, Treger Products Group, Arenel Private Limited, Datlabs, Archer Clothing, among others have recently exhibited strong rebound and have been widening domestic and export footprint.
The city has also registered a growing small to medium enterprise sector that is anchored in the manufacturing, retail and service industry with a higher scope on food processing, leather and clothing value chains, mining supplies and engineering. Earlier during a tour of company stands, President Mnangagwa also stated that Bulawayo industry recovery was gaining momentum.
"Each year Bulawayo is resuscitating the industries here, it is not an event, but a process," said President Mnangagwa in response to questions from journalists.
Minister Nzenza the Government's National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1:2021-2025), which was launched at the end of last year, was focused on revitalising industrial value chains and that the path towards that ideal was already evident in the nature of products that were displayed at this year's ZITF.
"Today we are witnessing the competitiveness, which shows a nod to collaboration with the Government and the private sector, as we promote a conducive environment for business to realise private sector growth," said Dr Nzenza.
Going forward, the minister said the productive sector must localise more value chains and ride on the ZITF as a platform to showcase higher value Zimbabwean brands.
"Local companies have already embraced the export development agenda of the New Dispensation through increased production, productivity as well as competitiveness and this will propel Zimbabwean products into the region and international markets," said Dr Nzenza.
"We are consistently engaging with the private sector to enable them to take advantage of the favourable business environment and economic growth trajectory.
"We are indeed honoured today to have the presence of our President and his vision is for the entire country to achieve economic growth and his aspirations are to ensure that our beautiful country attains an upper-middle status by 2030."
Bulawayo Provincial Minister of State, Judith Ncube, has also concurred that the gloomy outlook of the past was being reversed as more companies seek to regain lost ground.
To consolidate growth, Minister Ncube on Wednesday encouraged businesses to synergise operations and enter into strategic partnerships to revamp operations.
"Through regional and international integration, Zimbabwe can reclaim economic powerhouse status and Bulawayo can regain its status as the industrial hub of the country," she said on Wednesday.