The local content steering committee has urged the business community to leverage on diaspora remittances coming into the country to build a viable industry that will create jobs, wealth and pride for the nation.
Addressing delegates at the recently held Buy Zimbabwe Buy Local Summit held in the capital, the committee chairperson Sifelani Jabangwe emphasized the need for Zimbabwe to increase its production capacity rather than rely on imports.
“For as long as we have people like we have in Zimbabwe, there is always needs to be satisfied. We need shelter, we need food, we need medication and what do we have at the end of each need? We have a company that supplies those goods and services.
“All these companies employ people and as long as they are not in the country, these jobs are in foreign nations.
“What we find is that all this needs a value chain which then increases the number of people and organizations that we see,” he said.
He added that the nation must increase the products being consumed so as to localise diaspora remittances to become part of a local service that will also create jobs for Zimbabweans.
“Another opportunity that we have is that we are receiving a lot of diaspora remittances and it has always been that to what extent should we leverage on these remittances in order to develop the economy?
“When people get diaspora remittances, what do they do? They spend the money on goods and services.
“If we continue to increase the products that we are consuming, we can also be able to localize the diaspora remittances so that they become part of our local service that will benefit local producers.
“And let’s leverage on that to develop the economy,” he said.
He also urged Zimbabweans to buy local products to sustain local value chains.
“Now when these needs are supplied for from foreign companies, the value chain players will also be in foreign countries.
“Just ask yourself that when you consume foreign milk, where are the calves?
“That’s why we see a decline in dairy when we consume foreign dairy products.
“Now when you follow what is behind the packet of milk, you find there is an industry which processes the products , there is an industry producing the packaging, there is a farmer, there are farm workers , there are suppliers and this gives us the industry that we seek,” he said.
The former CZI boss also applauded Buy Zimbabwe for the Buy Zimbabwe initiative saying there has been a change of behavior in the consumption of local products.
“By standing firm with what Buy Zimbabwe has done, Zimbabwe is converting to consuming their own products. We have now started to see jobs and wealth being created for Zimbabweans.
“A number of people are now being employed and becoming proud of their nation .
“We have seen particularly in the food and beverage sector, the shelf space grew to between 60% to 70% and we have seen capacity utilization in companies rising above 45% .
“The high agricultural output that resulted in us being self sufficient particularly in grains has also resulted in positive impacts and that’s also part of local content,” he said.
Jabangwe also urged the industry to look beyond the food and beverage sector adding that other opportunities lie in other sectors such as mining and infrastructure among others.
“As we reach this stage, what is the challenge that we have? We now need to look beyond the food sector , if you go into the food retail sector you find there are successes and achievements but when you go into furniture retail, hardware retail, we are still way behind hence we are still importing a lot of goods.
“Now we need to collectively target those particular sectors because as Zimbabweans we know, we are still importing a lot of products.
“So we need to rally and implement the local content strategy in the remaining sub sectors and l must acknowledge that we have seen in the infrastructural sector, government prioritises local contractors and this has boosted the performance of all players in that value chain,” he added.
Jabangwe is a past President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries. He also has 20 years of experience in the manufacturing industry, a sector that he is very passionate about.
He has also previously served as a ZimTrade board member. Currently, he is the Chairperson of the local content steering committee for the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
A remittance is money sent by a person in a foreign land to his or her home country. Due to the huge sums involved, remittances are now being recognised as an important contributor to the country’s growth and development.