Opening Remarks by Pres
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to give welcome remarks and to welcome you all to this year’s edition of the ZNCC 2018 Agri-Business Breakfast Meeting.
Before I dwell much into my remarks I would like to pose a few questions to each one of you here present. Did you decide to put on clothes that are free of child labour? And while drinking your cup of coffee in the lounge just now did you think: 'I wonder if the coffee farmer at the other end of the industry value chain got a fair price for his beans.'
Every day we all play a role in the industry value chains, usually at the end of the chain, as consumers. But for most of us the link between the fair price of trade and our daily breakfast is not an obvious one. Let alone feeling responsible for it. The reality is that industry value chains have become a dominant feature of world trade. They create a high level of interconnectedness and interdependency, making it very complex to steer changes in the direction we desire, towards a more sustainable world.
This year’s Agri-Business Breakfast meeting is running under the theme “Enterprise Development, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainable Growth” given that the Chamber is on the drive to equip business with development opportunities, to help create sustainable businesses which grow and lead to job creation, in turn contributing to sustainable economic growth which is a priority to result in the provision of opportunities for local entrepreneurs (women and youth included).
Ladies and Gentlemen let me highlight that this breakfast meeting’s panel discussion topic is being held under the co-themes of ZNCC and Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) to which the ZAS theme reads, “Field to Industry, Produce; Connect; Develop.” It is commendable to note that commercial exhibition space taken up at this whole juncture has increased by approximately 7.5% from 79 730 square metres in 2017 to 85 730 in 2018 with at least 8 countries participating at this year’s edition. This makes it one of the biggest fairs in Zimbabwe that is slowly moving from being a provincial event to national level. In following the news recently, we read that ZAS received a council approval to construct a $100 million five-star hotel and conventional center and is currently constructing a $20 million state of the art shopping mall here at the exhibition grounds. As the business community we appreciate such an initiative to boost retailing and promotion of value chains through selling of inputs and finished products.
The Chamber would like to acknowledge the efforts being made by the Government in the formulation of a new Zimbabwe National Industrialisation Policy (2018-2022) that is centered on developing and facilitating industrial linkages across all sectors of the economy. Also we would like to applaud our line ministry, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development for their key role in strengthening of this policy and all the private players who have been contributing immensely towards this policy and strengthening of value chains.
Dear colleagues, as most of you know, on 21 March 2018, 44 African Union member states signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda with the goal of creating a single market followed by free movement and a single currency union. What does this mean? This signifies a single continental legal regime for all relevant trade disciplines; including lower tariffs, simplified rules of origin and customs procedures, regulations for trade in services and remedies available to affected private parties. This is a bold vision but vital for advancing Africa’s economic development and capacity also to integrate more effectively into the 21st century global economy. In all this aspect how then does Zimbabwe benefit? Through increased Value Chains!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, agriculture remains the backbone of this country’s economy, however, there is need to increase productivity in the sector while unlocking more downstream opportunities. Having strong value chains will establish opportunities for processing, value addition and beneficiation for the local industry following a vital quantity supply of raw materials. Following the command agriculture initiatives the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe reported milling capacity to have risen from below 50% to 87% for mealie-meal and 93% for wheat last season which is what we hope to achieve in all sectors of field to industry processes.
There is need for us to continuously invest into digital technologies inorder to transform the way we produce our food, manage our land, the way we eat and consume our food and even the way we do research if we are going to strengthen our competitive advantages as a nation. We also need to invest in business digital hubs which help connect farm businesses with technology providers, scientists and those able to finance innovation. The free trade area we have entered into is a war zone, not of bullets but of commercial interests, therefore we need to equip well to avoid being the dumping zone.
During the ZNCC annual congress resolutions were made that:
- ZNCC must engage Government on the proposal for the country to host the CFTA Secretariat because this comes with incremental benefits. To this a letter was submitted to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development requesting the Ministry to assist in expediting the process of Expressions of Interest to host the Secretariat through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; and CEO has made communications with the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ethiopia regarding this issue. Now we hope for a positive outcome towards this initiative.
- ZNCC should host the 2020 Intra Africa Trade Fair - A meeting was held with Afrexim bank, who are the sponsors of the Intra Africa Trade Fair. The meeting discussed ZNCC’s intention to participate at the 2018 intra Africa Trade Fair to be held in Egypt and to express interest to host the 2020 Intra Africa Trade Fair.
Ladies and gentlemen, I will not be verbose and prolix since we have little time. Again welcome and let us have a great breakfast meeting.