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'We turned adversity into opportunity'

by Staff reporter
17 Oct 2021 at 08:57hrs | Views
Zimbabwe turned adversities caused by Covid-19 into opportunities for local industry, which resulted in manufacturing capacity jumping from 36 percent to 47 percent driven by local capabilities, as global supply chains were disrupted, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has said.

The VP made the remarks on Thursday during an interactive session at the Global Business Forum Africa (GBFA), which ran on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The VP, who has held various meetings with investors and company executives of Dubai-based companies, was accompanied by Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Minister Dr Anxious Masuka.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando and Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu were also part of the entourage.

VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe used a mix of strategies from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its own internally developed strategies and interventions to contain the deadly pandemic.

President Mnangagwa declared a State of National Disaster in March last year to enable the Government to mobilise resources to fight the coronavirus.

Other interventions such as masking up, social distancing, sanitising and later a massive vaccination programme have been successfully deployed.

Measures to minimise the impact of the pandemic on businesses, especially those designated to providing essential services, paid dividends.

"When Covid-19 pandemic struck us; yes, we got affected, it was a shock for us, but we quickly turned that adversity into an opportunity; we accelerated our development," the VP said.

Zimbabwe, he added, leveraged on its highly educated population as well as universities and other tertiary institutions to drive research, develop and produce essentials needed to fight Covid-19, including face masks, a number of personal protective equipment and sanitisers, among others.

Amid worldwide disruption to production, trade and supply chains, Zimbabwe started producing key medical products, pharmaceuticals including medicines, drugs and medical oxygen for the health sector.

He said successes registered in this area had made the country self-sufficient and the trend would be sustained.

However, this was made possible through co-ordination between universities and tertiary institutions, the Government and the manufacturing sector.

VP Chiwenga said the Government focused on ramping up local production of basic goods, including food, as Covid-19 presented an opportunity to "restart Zimbabwe".

"We re-engineered our industry to rise to the occasion," he said.

"In no time, we found ourselves producing PPE (personal protective equipment), sanitisers, medicines and we progressed to the point where we are now producing medical oxygen for our own hospitals."

Resorting to local capabilities was mainly driven by disruptions to global supply chains.

Capacity utilisation in industry has since risen from 36 percent last year to 47 percent by the first half of 2021.

It is projected to further grow to 61 percent by year-end.

Zimbabwe economy is forecast to rise to 7,8 percent this year owing to a stellar agricultural season, massive public and private infrastructure projects and strong commodity prices.

The VP chronicled the many programmes and initiatives that the Government is working on in agriculture to boost production and investment across the country, especially taking advantage of Zimbabwe's more than 10 700 water bodies.

"There is no crop you cannot grow in Zimbabwe. We have done our research and found that every crop out there can be grown in Zimbabwe.

"The only way you can guarantee the production and productivity of crops is irrigation; we have the Zambezi River flowing through the country — it is the fourth-longest river in Africa — and we have 10 700 dams, making us the most dammed country on the African continent," he said.

This was critical, he added, to deal with challenges posed by climate change, including ensuring national food security through accelerated and increased irrigation.

Source - The Sunday Mail
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