Zim launches work on new industrial policy

Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube

HARARE – Zimbabwe is working on a new Industrial Development Policy (IDP), which seeks to grow the sector by at least 2 percent annually over the next six years, according to a senior Government official.

The policy, to run between 2024 and 2030, also targets growth in investments, exports of manufactured goods, and employment by 3, 10, and 20 percent, respectively, Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube said.

It will succeed the five-year National Industrial Development Strategy, whose tenure ends this year. The new policy would be “underpinned by productivity improvement, transformation, and competitiveness,” said Minister Ncube in the 2024 Budget Strategy Paper.

Taking advantage of the strong linkages and interdependence between the manufacturing and the agricultural sectors, special focus would be on value chain development in areas such as fertilizer, soya, cotton, dairy, sugar, leather, pharmaceutical, bus and truck, engineering iron and steel and plastic waste value chains–considered low-hanging fruits for a structurally transforming economy.

According to Minister Ncube, measures would be put in place to encourage growth in emerging industries that adopt the latest technology, including innovations and new focus areas like lithium value addition, solar energy, recycled waste, and enhanced value addition in the agro-processing area among others.

The National Venture Capital Fund would be key in facilitating the formation and development of new industries and start-ups, particularly from youths and women.

On the other hand, the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) will continue to identify cost drivers impacting on competitiveness of the productive sectors and make recommendations for policy interventions.

In addition, collaboration between industry and institutions of higher learning would be sustained to ensure the country takes advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and new production and commercial technologies being developed at local universities.

Growth of the manufacturing sector, although positive, has continued to be weighed down by global and domestic shocks that impact on competitiveness of local products in both the domestic and export markets. The contribution of the sector to exports and progress in value addition has remained low on account of productivity challenges, high input costs, and disruptions to supply value chains.

The Volume of Manufacturing Index for the first quarter of 2023 was 289.5, reflecting a year-on-year drop of 14,8 percent compared to 339.6 in the first quarter of 2022.

“Supportive measures to enable the growth of the sector include improving access to funding, implementation of the local content policy, ease of doing business reforms, economic empowerment, consumer protection, and quality assurance programmes.”

The manufacturing industry used to be among the leading sectors in the economy. The high cost of doing business, foreign currency shortages, and limited foreign direct investment saw the country experiencing factory closures, job losses, and de-industrialisation. – Herald