From Herald.co.zw
Golden Sibanda
27 July 2011

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries

It will be officially opened by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Professor Welshman Ncube.

Businessman Mr Mutumwa Mawere will deliver the keynote address.

Youth Development Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere will be among high-profile delegates from the public and private sectors.

This year’s congress will run under the theme “From Stabilisation to Growth: Challenges for Zimbabwe Industries”.

Presentations will focus on doing business in a global economy, incorporating GMO technology to enhance competitiveness, energy sector as an enabler of business and business and the inclusive Government.

The congress will discuss a number of problems facing industry – with top of the list being power shortages, liquidity challenges and the high cost of funding.

High labour costs, utility charges, water shortages, competition from exports, low capacity utilisation and inefficiency due to old equipment are also to be debated.

Minister Ncube last year said industry required US$2 billion to retool after a decade of economic instability during which firms could not recapitalise their operations.

Due to hyperinflation, the companies could not set aside any capital to bolster operations, machinery and equipment. As the economy was not performing well, many companies have struggled to sustain their operations.

Expectations are that a focus on issues constraining productivity would create latitude for exports and enhance competitiveness on global markets.

The high cost of funding is also a major issue of concern for industry. Available bank facilities are either largely short-term or prohibitively expensive.

The congress will discuss ways in which funding could be unlocked to finance activities in various productive sectors of the economy.

This is especially important considering recent reports that a significant chunk of funds from external loans secured by banks has not been disbursed to industry.

Analysts said the congress should discuss ways of raising confidence in the banking industry to facilitate immediate disbursement of affordable medium-term funding.

Experts from the power sector will explain efforts to ensure improved availability of power.

Zimbabwe faces crippling power deficits that need reining in if the economy is to return to sustainable growth and development.

National demand for power currently stands at 2 100 megawatts against generation capacity that has for a long time been hovering around 1 200 megawatts.

Industry has of late been imploring Government to put measures to contain high wage demands and has called for immediate action in this respect.

CZI president Mr Joseph Kanyekanye recently said Government needed to implement measures to contain the wage spiral, a thorny issue for industry.

He has also called on the Government to consider reinstating duty on certain products, where local production has improved, to cushion producers.

One such sector where industry will welcome duty on cheap imports is the beverages sector.

Raising duty for textile and leather products would also do local industry a great deal of good in reducing external competition.