WITH a few weeks left for the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) to begin in Bulawayo, the second-largest city in the country is under spotlight, not only as a host to the prime trade showcase, but as the nation’s industrial hub. Eleven nations have confirmed their participation at this year’s event, which was suspended last year due to COVID-19.
This year’s edition will be held under tight Covid-19 mitigation protocols between 20 to 23 July, according to the ZITF Company.
This year’s theme is ‘Showcasing the New Normal for Business & Industry: Realities and Opportunities’.
The global interest in Zimbabwe as an investment destination, source of key raw materials for various industrial processes and key trading partner should entice local businesses, especially Bulawayo industries, to position themselves well during ZITF and beyond, according to a newspaper report in the country.
Unlike in recent years when Bulawayo industries have played second fiddle in terms of ZITF participation following the demise of established companies since the turn of the millennium, the rising opportunities demand that the city’s productive sector players present themselves in large numbers.
Bulawayo has a vibrant small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector that has over the past few years made an impact in industrial manufacturing, covering sectors like leather, agro-processing, mining supplies, tourism, textile and clothing, furniture, construction, engineering and a variety of commercial service operations, and has great export potential in the African region.
For example, increasing trade with Rwanda would not only enhance Zimbabwe’s access to markets in the East African Community, but also scale up export capacity to the region, which has a combined gross domestic product of more than $177 billion, according to ZimTrade.
“We are trying to make sure that we not only just do trade with Rwanda but also Rwanda is a platform for Zimbabwe to take its services and goods to other countries in the East African region,” according to ZimTrade chief executive officer Allan Majuru.
“We might be called land-locked but we call ourselves land-linked and the same applies for Rwanda. We are hoping to open warehouses in Rwanda that can then feed into that region. We want to go beyond Rwanda with regards to opportunities that are there,” he was quoted as saying.
In April, a ZimTrade delegation was in Kigali, Rwanda to identify products and services with potential for exports. This followed a resolution to intensify cooperation between the two countries that saw several memoranda of understanding being signed in March this year to cement bilateral relations at the inaugural virtual session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC).
It is high time that Bulawayo companies considered setting up distribution warehouses in Rwanda and other key markets in and outside the region where they can stock supplies, as well as set up retail shops for Zimbabwean products, ZimTrade feels.
Additional export market surveys focusing on Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Sudan and Kenya have also been conducted. – Fibre2Fashion News Desk ■