The Sunday News
Oliver Kazunga in Victoria Falls
ZIMBABWE needs to urgently craft a local content policy to drive industrialisation across all value chains to consolidate gains made under Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016.
Delegates attending the 7th Annual Buy Local Summit and Investment Forum, in Victoria Falls last week noted that while Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 has brought some positives towards economic turnaround, there was need to come up with a local content policy to address the shortfalls presented by SI 64/ 2016.
In June last year, the Government through the Ministry of Industry and Commerce promulgated SI 64/2016, which removed several goods from the Open General Import Licence to regulate imports entering into the country.
Presenting a paper on the impact and shortfalls of SI 64/2016 and defining local content alternative, economist, Dr Gift Mugano, said:
“While the SI has managed to protect certain industries whose goods are listed, the Statutory Instrument is not addressing the whole value chain. For example, issues of quality and certification of standards; some local companies still haven’t been certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.”
He said SI 64 was a short term measure aimed at fire fighting in the context of protecting local industries from stiff competition from foreign companies.
In the context of the local content framework, Dr Mugano said there was need to look at localising production to set standards in every sector to foster industrialisation.
“With SI 64/2016, we have managed to protect about 43 of those products listed under the SI yet our economy is supported by over 10 000 products.
We are protecting cooking oil but not the contents (raw materials). Therefore, there is need to look at local content across the whole value chain,” he said.
Dr Mugano said it was imperative that in coming up with a local content policy framework, the country should not expend efforts and resources in sectors that it does not have competitive advantage.
“Local content works in areas where you have competitive advantage and thus there is need to create policies that support local content,” he added.
Dr Mugano also noted that SI 64/2016 despite having controlled the influx of imports, has some issues with Sadc protocols on trade.
Buy Zimbabwe general manager Mr Munyaradzi Hwengwere, said there were notable achievements the economy has recorded as a result of SI64/2016 but a lot still needed to be done to drive industrialisation in the country.
“We are all happy with the results of SI 64/2016. It has resulted in incremental growth; there has been some reduction in import growth. However, nostro accounts have remained as pressurised as they are because of a number of supply constraints,” he said, adding that “internal dynamics have not changed despite the promulgation of SI 64/ 2016.”
Mr Hwengwere stressed the need for the country to come up with a baseline to rate local content so as to identify areas the economy has competitive advantage.