Editorial Comment: Renewed interest in Byo sign of city potential

by Shingirai Huni | Sunday, Apr 6, 2014 | 1906 views

LOCAL captains of industry have over the last few years moaned over the deteriorating state of industry in Bulawayo. In most cases, they have just been shouting while folding their arms and hoping that one day Government will come with some huge basket of money for them to use at their ailing companies.

It is gratifying that while some people are still moaning about the state of Bulawayo and hoping that one day maybe money will fall from heaven into their accounts for the city’s industry to come to life, there are investors who have taken it upon themselves to put money and start businesses in the city.

Elsewhere in the paper, we carry a story of how some foreigners have put aside more than $800 000 in new investments in Bulawayo in just one month.

One of the investors from Pakistan, who is running Primetone Enterprises, Mr Sawab Khan, talks glowingly about the city being an attractive investment destination as it is near the ports, easier to access certain raw materials and having a lot of space to set up manufacturing plants.
“Bulawayo is the best place to do our foundry business as scrap metal is cheap and easy to get. There is plenty of space here and we are looking forward to telling fellow Pakistanis to join us and do business in Bulawayo,” said Mr Khan.

Another investor representing Panellink Manufacturing which has set up shop in the city Mr Guo-Yong Wei from China said as foreigners they were hoping that more was still to come for Bulawayo as the Government had indicated that Bulawayo would be declared a Special Economic Zone.

“We have heard talk of declaring the city a SEZ and to our knowledge this will help businesspeople as well as attract more investors as certain policies will be put in place to support companies,” said Mr Wei.

The two companies, at full throttle, will create more than 300 jobs and this is a positive step in addressing the high unemployment rate in Bulawayo.

Such renewed interest in the city raises the hope that Bulawayo is now ready for a full-fledged revival.
All what is needed is the will and action from dedicated people like the investors who instead of talking at business conferences and complaining are leading the way by actually doing what has to be done.

These are the people whom we must seek to tell the true story of Bulawayo because they are practical people who are on the ground and leading a crusade that can bring back smiles to the city.

More importantly the investors came in and respected the laws of the country by ensuring that their ventures meet the country’s indigenisation law which entails that locals must own 51 percent shares.

In three weeks, the city will hold the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, the country’s biggest trade showcase.
The exhibition, traditionally puts a spotlight on Bulawayo and it is high time people like these investors are given the opportunity not only to exhibit but tell the story of the city and the country at large.

Here are people who are experiencing the day-to-day feel of Bulawayo and who have seen what this part of the country can offer to any investor.
We feel somehow the Bulawayo industrial story has been left in the hands of un-ambitious people who have resigned to complaining and who can’t see beyond the names of the old companies that were operating here.

We need to guard against nostalgia and start working towards fresh ideas that bring better returns for the city.
Yes, some companies closed but it is not worth a cent to continue mourning about reviving something that is now beyond revival. That is why like these new investors, we must seek new opportunities that will help the city regain its former status.

Like what these investors see, Bulawayo still has the land to set up new companies; in fact doing business in the city is cheaper than many other areas in the country and in the region. It still has a huge comparative advantage over many other areas.

Business is also about taking risk in anticipation of a bigger market or fortunes. The Government has already said that Bulawayo will be declared a Special Economic Zone and to a businessman with foresight, that is enough to position him/herself for the anticipated benefits.
A last-minute dash might be too late.

To all those with money and scouring for places to invest, Bulawayo is a ripe and ready place with all the right ingredients and potential to bring the desired returns. Some investors have taken the lead and it is up to us to follow suit and help revive the city.

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