By Nyasha Mutena
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has challenged the local private sector to be innovative and adapt new technologies to improve business competitiveness whilst leveraging on the trade arrangement in within Africa and beyond.
He said this whilst commissioning Varun Beverages additional plant that will produce 60 million bottles and cans a month for local consumption and export. Varun Beverages is the second-largest bottling company of PepsiCo’s beverages in the world.
President Mnangagwa also said the private sector, which is key to the national aspirations of becoming an upper-middle income economy by 2030 through the implementation of the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), should take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“Let me take this opportunity to challenge the private sector to be more innovative and continue to adopt and adapt new technologies and marketing strategies to improve business competitiveness.
“All sectors of the economy must equally take advantage of Zimbabwe’s existing trade arrangements within Africa and beyond. The operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with a market of more than 1,2 billion people must be fully utilised and exploited,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said the project by the Indian company dovetails with Zimbabwe’s National Industrial Policy which aims to promote local production of goods and commodities towards decreasing reliance on imports.
“I challenge other private sector players to take advantage of our growing economy, broadening income levels and the resultant markets to increase their investments as we move the economy up the value chains,” said President Mnangagwa.
Describing the commissioning of the additional plant, President Mnangagwa acknowledged that Varun Beverages ‘s latest development is clear testimony that the company has hasn’t deviated from its pledge in December 2019 to expand production.
“I am delighted that you have fulfilled the pledge you made at that event and accordingly expanded the plant in line with your business growth strategy. My Administration welcomes this development which is an indicator of the growing confidence this entity has in our national economic trajectory and market.
“The operationalisation of the production line and setting up of an additional plant is most timely not only in respect of satisfying the ever-growing local market but also with regards to the potential in the regional market.
“The attendant increase in production will equally create more employment opportunities, increase household incomes and help in meeting the national demand for beverages. I, thus, commend Varun Beverages Zimbabwe for this forward-looking and bold business decision to invest in our jurisdiction.”
Under President Mnangagwa Zimbabwe has experienced a major transformation in its political and economic environment, with his administration bringing renewed confidence as world businesses heeded his “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra.
Consequently, major companies have been coming into Zimbabwe where the ease of doing business has significantly improved and yesterday President Mnangagwa encouraged Varun Beverages to play an ambassadorial role in selling brand-Zimbabwe.
“It is encouraging to note the tremendous growth that Varun Beverages Zimbabwe has undergone since 2018. This has seen the unveiling of this seventh production line which I am commissioning today. The capacity of the new plant to produce 400 bottles per minute of bottled water and cordials is commendable.
“As established investors in our country, I call upon you to be good ambassadors and tell other potential investors about the prevailing conducive business and investment climate and prospects in Zimbabwe. My Administration thus stands ready to welcome and facilitate more investments,”said President Mnangagwa
True to his listening qualities as a leader, President Mnangagwa urged business stakeholders, through their networks and various platforms, to constantly give feedback on how the country can improve the business environment.
“By doing so, the gains achieved so far under the Second Republic will be consolidated and further inform the ongoing discourse on reforming and opening up of the economy for the benefit of both the private sector and the people of Zimbabwe as a whole.”
The company, which exports to neighbouring countries, is already earning Zimbabwe foreign currency while at the same time creating employment directly for 2 000 people and indirectly for more than 20 000.