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Moderator: Mr. Peter Kadzere – CEO, Smartvest Wealth Managers Panelists: Mr. Dayford Nhema – Director of Industrial Development, Ministry of Industry and Commerce; Eng. Macheka Machumairi – Director of Quality Assurance, Ministry of Industry and Commerce; Ms. Eneida Fernandes - Country Manager, World Bank Zimbabwe; Mrs. Sara Moyo - Senior Partner, Honey & Blanckenberg; and Mr Ephraim Chawoneka – Managing Director, STF Capital.

The 2023 State of Industry and Commerce Survey was carried out between June and October 2023. These Panelists had positive words to say about the Report. Mr Ephraim Chawoneka was drawn to the table which provided reasons for low-capacity utilization. Of interest was the lack of adequate skills in a case of comparison in which average capacity utilization within the education sector rose from 53% in 2022 to 80% in 2023.

The industry is yearning for skills while quite a several graduates are coming out of universities indicating a disconnect/mismatch between the industry’s needs and the tertiary education system. With regards to the recently presented 2024 National Budget, the omission of direct support to power infrastructure development in a country with high power outages requires reconsideration, especially given the rising cost of fuel. With regards to the Ease of Doing Business, the complex tax system is indeed a challenge, and for an average business person, it is somewhat difficult to understand where you apply certain taxes.  

Mrs. Sara Moyo’s interest was on corruption which was cited to be a major hindrance to the ease of doing business particularly looking at the regulatory requirements which are deemed to be onerous and some are not easy to understand why they are even there. She emphasized that the elimination of the human interface may help reduce corruption as the Government moves to fully digitalize and adopt an eGovernment system. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce was commended for the move to start issuing import licenses online.

The World Bank Country Manager, Ms. Eniada Fernandes submitted that the Survey Report was well-articulated in addition, the World Bank undertook two studies linked to the private sector of which the majority of the findings are pointing to the findings reported in the 2023 ZNCC Survey Report. Accordingly, the World Bank was scheduled to launch a Zimbabwe Economic Update on Wednesday 13 December 2023 at Cresta Lodge in Harare. She also reported that the digital infrastructure can be highlighted more and needs to delve deep into in future Surveys.

Eng. Macheka Muchumairi paid particular focus to the Wholesale and Retail sector in which the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is currently establishing a policy on this sector. He also stressed the need to have current data on the informal sector and for future Survey Reports to stress more on the informal sector given its size and contribution to economic activities. Accordingly, an Inter-ministerial committee was established to define the informal sector and find mechanisms towards alignment with the formal sector so the sector contributes significantly to national progress and government revenue.

Mr Dayford Nhema highlighted the importance of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in driving the industrialization of the country. He reported that in this endeavour, several downside risks are presenting pressures and it is crucial for both the Government of Zimbabwe and the private sector to move speedily in turning challenges into opportunities for future growth. As the Survey Report had presented the key pressing challenges, it was of paramount importance for such issues to be addressed to remain with an economy that is thriving. Additionally, localization of production is key and the Government is promoting rural industrialization and the implementation of the NDS1 and Sustainable Development Goals.

During the Plenary Session, it was stressed that the lack of skills required by industry entails the criticality of the National Manpower Advisory Council (NAMACO) and Zimbabwe Council of Higher Education (ZIMCHE) to enhance the interaction being industry and education systems as well as the industry-business linkages.