The Sunday Mail
LOBBY group Buy Zimbabwe will later this month roll out a campaign to encourage the consumption of locally manufactured products in a development expected to ultimately stimulate industrial production.
According to Buy Zimbabwe, at the end of every year, Zimbabwe loses significant amounts of money to foreign products that are pushed into the country.
Under the Buy Zimbabwe Week campaign, the lobby group will seek to promote the increased consumption of local products, especially during the festive season.
In 2019, the Government approved the Zimbabwe Local Content Strategy, which is a component of the Zimbabwe Industrialisation Development Policy, that is aimed at promoting local value addition and linkages through the utilisation of domestic resources.
Local content policies or laws have been major instruments for stimulating industrial growth in resource-rich countries.
Value addition and beneficiation are also among the key deliverables of the country’s five-year development plan, the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1), which is a precursor to the country’s broader ambition, Vision 2030, by which time Zimbabwe is expected to be an empowered upper middle-income society.
Buy Zimbabwe general manager Mr Alois Burutsa said the week will be observed under the theme ‘‘Defend and Grow Zimbabwean Products Market Share”.
“To save foreign currency and jobs, as well as enhance market access for local goods during the festive season, Buy Zimbabwe introduced the Buy Zimbabwe Week, which, this year, runs from November 21 t0 25.
“The Buy Zimbabwe Week, which will run under the theme ‘Defend and Grow Zimbabwean Products Market Share’ will see a full week of activities, including roadshows and activations at participating brands as we seek to raise top-of-mind awareness on local goods and services,” he said.
He said brand ambassadors will be stationed at selected wholesale and retail outlets in major cities and towns, where they will educate consumers on the necessity of purchasing local goods and help them to identify local brands.
The ambassadors will be deployed at retail and wholesale outlets in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Kwekwe and Zvishavane.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Mr Denford Mutashu said the country should take advantage of the local content policy as a pillar under NDS 1.
He added that real disposable incomes play a key role in stimulating demand while productive sector support can be quadrupled.
“Enhancing capacity utilisation will create more jobs and expansion opportunities in light of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” he said.
Economist Mr Vince Musewe said import substitution was a key strategy for reindustrialisation of Zimbabwe’s economy.
“We just have to add value locally, create jobs and invest in new technologies in order to revive and support the economy.
“Currently, we are mainly dependent on primary products and, as international prices fluctuate, we will have problems as an economy, so promotion of local products and increasing production capacity will also safeguard our economy from fluctuations of primary commodities from their international prices,” he said.
Mr Musewe said Zimbabwe was highly industrialised and that implies there were a lot of products that the country used to consume which should be revisited.
It is believed this will positively impact agriculture and create employment.
“When people have enough money, demand for goods increases and the whole economy will benefit,” he said.
He noted that, given what is happening with regional trade, there was need to start trading in manufactured goods and grow the country’s export base by increasing high-value exports to generate adequate foreign currency for the country.
According to Mr Burutsa , Buy Zimbabwe has also forged partnerships with the Midlands State University and Chinhoyi University of Technology to ensure market access for products produced by youths and small to medium enterprises.
“We have belief and confidence that, if the local industry is supported by consumers, Zimbabwean companies will not only provide products which are cheaper and competitive, but can also satisfy local market demand and the export market while contributing to the achievement of Government’s Vision 2030 of transforming Zimbabwe to upper middle-income status,” he said.
He noted that Buy Zimbabwe remained committed to the production, promotion and preference for local products and services to create and preserve jobs, wealth and pride.
Development economist Mr Prosper Chitambara said the biggest incentives in the economy would be the prices of the products, stressing that if the prices are right, they will incentivise greater uptake of local products by consumers, hence the need to invest in the key enablers of business.
He added that improving local capacity to satisfy demand should be bolstered by access to credit and good infrastructure, which have been among the binding constraints to local industry, as they negatively impact their ability to meet demand.
According to the Government, implementation of the Local Content Strategy, in partnership with the private sector, stimulates and propels the development of value chains and strengthens local linkages among the agricultural, extractive, industrial and service sectors.
Buy Zimbabwe, on its part, is targeting to grow the consumption of local products by at least 80 percent annually to save and create 300 000 new jobs by 2025.