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Bulawayo firm commits to re-industrialisation

by Staff reporter
02 Dec 2021 at 05:30hrs | Views
THE availing of lines of credit to the automobile repair industry is the sure way to facilitate retooling so the sector becomes a key enabler in Government efforts to modernise and stabilise the economy.

This was said by Bulawayo-based entrepreneur Mr Charles Hungwe, managing director of Autorobot-Tech, as he detailed how investing in high-tech motor vehicle repair machinery was of importance in rebuilding the country's industry.

The firm is one of a few in southern Africa that use the auto-robot machine and ranks among the top three in Matabeleland region.

Mr Hungwe said his entry into the business was buoyed by the resurgence in the vehicle manufacturing worldwide and the increase in the number of car owners. Autorobot-Tech has seen it through the turbulent economic times of the early 2000s and stayed afloat up to now.

With an unmatched reputation in panel beating and realignment of accident-damaged cars, Autorobot-Tech stands as a doyen in the motor repair industry.

Mr Hungwe learned the business grind from experts in Finland, where upon his return home, brought the state-of-the-art auto-robot machine.

The machine is the only one in country that fixes chassis and body realignment, according to Mr Hungwe.

"I formed this company in 1996. I left for Finland and stayed there for a year doing automobile repair work as well.

Then, on my coming back, I realised that business was booming in the country, only for the economy to take a dive sooner. But, I did not relent. In 2005 I went to the United States up to 2013. I then decided to commit fully in the business locally," said Mr Hungwe.

"We have managed to capture the market and I am proud to say we are rated among the top three in the region. This is so because of our sound high-tech equipment. When I went to Finland, I bought the auto robot machine, which is the most preferred machinery when it comes to vehicle repair works."

He, however, was quick to say that with the current business environment in the country, it was not easy to keep up with technological advancement.

He urged the Government and the banking sector to avail lines of credit to facilitate easier importing of modern equipment.

"Currently business is not doing well because we do not have access to lines of credit. We are not able to retool. My vision was to bring in more state-of-the-art equipment into the country, and help industrialise the whole motor industry in the country.

"Unfortunately there are no supporting mechanisms such as lines of credit. There is a need to bring in modern equipment," said Mr Hungwe, who runs the family business with his wife Michelle.

Covid-19 has also affected the company, forcing it to downsize its manpower. It now employs 16 workers comprising artisans, spray painters and panel beaters.

Mr Hungwe's call for more lines of credit to facilitate the retooling of the local automotive industry came shortly after the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Sekai Nzenza said the revival of that sector tops the Government's priorities.

"Under the President's mandate for local production, innovation, creation of employment and economic growth, we as the Ministry of Industry and Commerce have taken the President's directive to promote local production very seriously," Minister Nzenza said recently.

Source - The Chronicle