Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
LOCAL industries must be more competitive and brace for increased international trade after Zimbabwe ratified the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is now operational.
Although Government has said it will require up to 15 years for the country to fully implement the AfCFTA, Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) chief executive officer, Dr Anxious Masuka, said local producers should start positioning themselves for this bigger market.
He was addressing delegates at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) annual Midlands’ awards event on Friday.
“Industry must be more competitive especially given that Zimbabwe has ratified the continental free trade area and this is the AfCFTA, which is now operational.
“So, for Zimbabwe this gigantic Africa wide event opens opportunities for a potential market of up to 1,2 billion people,” said Dr Masuka.
“But alas, in an environment where our imports are more than our exports, Zimbabwe is unlikely to immediately benefit from this development but however, industry must see this as a challenge, opportunity or obligation to step up, to scale up to produce competitive goods and services for this yearning market.
“I have no doubt in the near future we are going to see us benefiting.”
By ratifying the AfCFTA, Zimbabwe joins about 15 other member states that have since ratified the agreement, which is in accordance with the Pan-African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”, enshrined in Agenda 2063.
Dr Masuka commended ZNCC for supporting the industry in business development, promotion and organised business ecosystems.
“The awards continue to nurture a competitive culture in the chamber and industry, a competiveness culture is needed to foster the country’s ability to attract investments, raise per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), create jobs and create shareholder value and also fosters increase in economic activities and raises revenue for Government especially while raising standards of living for Zimbabweans,” he said.
Dr Masuka said there was an urgent need for business to be innovative, to be more creative and to swiftly forge strategic units to make the right connections to place Zimbabwe on the right global pedestal.
“An event such as this one is right platform to network to discuss opportunities and mutual beneficiations and make undertaking for growth. Industry is critical in shaping Zimbabwe economic landscape,” he said.
Meanwhile, several companies scooped awards in recognition of their outstanding performances in different categories.