The Matabeleland chapter of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the country’s biggest industrial lobby group, is conducting a census for all operating companies in the region.
Bulawayo, once Zimbabwe’s industrial hub, was the hardest hit by massive deindustrialisation which worsened at the turn of the century, with many companies closing shop.
CZI Matabeleland chapter president, Shepherd Chawira, told captains of industry and commerce in Bulawayo recently that as part of tackling deindustrialisation, they were carrying out a census for Matabeleland companies.
“For this exercise, we are working with our institutional stakeholders to take a census of all operating companies from Beitbridge right up to Victoria Falls,” Chawira said during a breakfast meeting with Industry and Commerce Minister, Sekai Nzenza.
He said the National University of Science and Technology was covering Bulawayo while Gwanda State University, was concentrating on Gwanda, Beitbridge and the rest of Matabeleland South.
Lupane State University, according to Chawira is covering Matabeleland North.
“We believe that the task of industrial development is all-encompassing and needs an all stakeholders approach,” explained Chawira.
The census comes at a time when industry is experiencing a consistent decline in capacity utilisation with general capacity utilisation has fallen from 48 percent in 218 to 36,4 percent in 2019.
Bulawayo’s current industrial capacity utilisation stands at 39, 6 percent.
“It is common knowledge that the manufacturing sector used to contribute immensely to GDP (Gross Domestic Product), employment creation and exports,” said Chawira.
“However, due to challenges experienced at the turn of the millennium, its importance has diminished. The manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP currently hovers around 12 percent. It is our objective and desire as CZI and other industrialists to reach levels of up to 30 percent contribution to GDP.”
Chawira said CZI’s objective is to drive the industrialisation of the manufacturing sector through innovation and increased investment to maximise capacity utilisation.
He added that for Bulawayo to reclaim its position as the industrial hub of the country, anchor companies as ZISCO Steel, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Cold Storage Company, Hwange Colliery Company and some key economic drivers have to be given special attention.
“Until serious attention is given to these companies, recovery and growth will continue at a snail’s pace,” he said.