EDITORIAL COMMENT: Companies must gear up for Zisco revival

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Government has announced that it is in the final stages of concluding the implementation of the Zisco deal with Hong Kong-based company R and F.

Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Mike Bimha told exporters at a ZimTrade annual exporters conference recently that key components of the agreement had already been signed with R and F.

He said when fully operational, the Redcliff-based steel manufacturer will narrow the trade deficit by $350 million per year as it will drastically reduce steel products imports. The company is also expected to be the single largest foreign currency earner with annual exports of $1 billion projected.

Minister Bimha said R and F is not into steel- making but is providing the funding for the revival of Zisco which was once Africa’s biggest integrated steel manufacturer. The revival of Zisco is also expected to boost other firms such as Hwange Colliery Company, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and many other downstream industries. Zisco used to anchor economic activities in the Midlands province and many downstream manufacturing industries throughout the country.

Dr Bimha said Government was fully committed to the revival of the steelmaker which folded operations in 2008. He said Zisco was expected to contribute significantly to the country’s economic turnaround. In 2011, India’s Essar Group agreed to buy 54 percent of Zisco’s shares in a deal worth $750 million.

The deal however collapsed in 2015 following disagreements over iron ore claims. The Midlands community is therefore looking forward to the resumption of operations at Zisco. The revival of Zisco will breathe life into Redcliff town and the nearby Kwekwe city which has many industries that used to rely on Zisco products. Zisco used to be one of the biggest employers in the Midlands province and is expected to regain this status in a few years to come.

We have already alluded to the fact that companies such as Hwange Colliery Company and NRZ will be boosted by Zisco operations and it is our fervent hope that such companies are gearing up for the expected increased business. Zisco will rely on the NRZ to transport coal from Hwange to the plant and also transporting steel to the various destinations outside the country.

It is therefore imperative for NRZ to ensure that it has the capacity to meet demand for its services. The Hwange Colliery Company and other coal mining companies should be able to meet the coal demand for the giant steel-maker. The Redcliff municipality on its part should brace for an increased population once Zisco resumes operations.

A number of downstream companies are likely to be set up in Redcliff so the municipality should not be found wanting when it comes to providing services to the new investors. There are very strong indications that our economy is on a recovery trajectory buoyed by the mining sector. The thrust now is for all Zimbabweans to contribute to the growth of the economy taking advantage of the Government’s many policy interventions meant to promote business growth.

Government has since last year been working on measures to enhance ease of doing business and a lot of ground has since been covered. We have every reason to conclude that the country is poised for an industrial boom given the positive indications on the ground.

Article Source: The Chronicle