According to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), the manufacturing industry in Zimbabwe produces more than 6 000 products. These range from food, clothing, fertilisers, pesticides, metal products, electrical machinery and equipment. As expected, the manufacturing industry is largely linked to agriculture with most products being agro based or being linked to inputs in the agricultural sector. We take a look at the business opportunities that exist in the manufacturing industry in Zimbabwe.
Clothing and textile
Zimbabweans own the majority of companies in this industry and there has been an influx of new local players over the last few years. Unfortunately, less than 10% of active manufacturers produce for export despite growth in the regional markets. This is despite the fact that the Zimbabwean worker is highly skilled and can produce clothing to world class standards and at competitive prices. Investment needs to focus on marketing, development of management and technical skills or joint venture manufacturing. Capacity utilisation is currently very low for companies like Kadoma Textiles and that is an opportunity for investors coming into the industry. Heavy reliance on imported second hand clothing (mabhero) is not sustainable for both the country and local clothing and textile industry players.
Although capacity is increasing in the food industry with notable investment happening in Colcom and newer players like Jim Kuyu, there is need for further investment. This will assist in the development of the dairy processing sector through modern packaging and design. There is also a gap in the production of healthy food alternatives. Other food products to consider include jam, peanut butter, sausages, cereals, cooking oil and mazoe.
The chemical industry in Zimbabwe offers a number of products which include fertilisers, pesticides, soaps and cleaning products, perfumes and cosmetics among others. There is massive potential to improve into more technical processes such as production of polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene barrier films. In relation to fertilisers and pesticides, there is need for further development to provide additional capacity for local demand and export. It should be borne in mind, once again, that agriculture is one of the drivers of economic growth and it should be supported by availability of farming inputs, fertilisers and pesticides included.
An influx of small scale indigenous players is commendable in the oil processing industry. These would benefit from investment in new technology and the development of regional and international markets in this sector.
Timber and furniture
Furniture manufacturing in Zimbabwe is one of the most established and most diversified sectors in the industry. The manufacturers produce a variety of products for the home, office and garden. The Glen View Area 8 Market quickly comes to mind in this sector. There is need for injection of capital, technology and development of new markets. In addition, there is room for development of specialised manufacturing concerns to produce footwear and luggage from locally available hides and skins.
Metals and minerals
Zimbabwe is endowed with vast mineral resources. However, not much is being done to add value to these minerals. Minerals such as gold, diamond and platinum are mostly exported in a raw state and their true value to the country is lost along the way. As such, investment in processing plants and other value addition processes is a huge opportunity. There is also room for investment in modern mining methods in order to increase mining productivity and efficiency. The majority of small scale miners use old and sometimes dangerous mining methods. More cost efficient methods need to be explored.
There are opportunities in capacity development in order to promote regional exports. In addition, there is a growing demand for cereal and snack-type products and this needs to be exploited as well.
An opportunity exists in the development of medical products from locally grown, natural raw materials. This includes controlled growth of prescribed drugs for the industry. The recent foreign currency shortages have adversely affected this industry and as such, local raw materials will ease the pressure.
It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of available opportunities but it gives a clear starting point for anyone looking to penetrate the manufacturing industry in the country. In the meantime, we need to continue improving our ease of doing business so as to attract the much needed investment in these and other areas.