‘DRC mar­ket ripe for Zim­bab­wean exports’

Business Weekly (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Oliver Kazunga

THE na­tional ex­port pro­mo­tion agency, ZimTrade, says the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC) is a ripe ex­port mar­ket for Zim­bab­wean prod­ucts and has called on lo­cal pro­duc­ers to seize the op­por­tu­nity.

Zim­babwe pro­duces an ar­ray of top-qual­ity prod­ucts from key sec­tors such as hor­ti­cul­ture, con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing, which can com­pete in any mar­ket around the world.

With Zim­babwe be­ing a land-linked coun­try, ZimTrade says there is need for lo­cal com­pa­nies to di­ver­sify their mar­kets and take ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that arise in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

The agency said DRC is one such mar­ket, of­fer­ing lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for Zim­bab­wean com­pa­nies across all sec­tors such as, min­ing, agri­cul­ture, ser­vices and more.

“DRC is one of the largest coun­tries by land mass in Africa, with a pop­u­la­tion five times the size of Zim­babwe, es­ti­mated at over 75,2 mil­lion by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity sec­re­tar­iat.

“This pop­u­la­tion is an in­di­ca­tion of a huge con­sumer base that could pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for Zim­bab­wean man­u­fac­tur­ers and farm­ers,” said ZimTrade.

The DRC is pre­dom­i­nantly rich in min­eral re­sources and re­lies on im­ports of goods and ser­vices for its huge pop­u­la­tion. Sta­tis­tics from Trade Map show that DRC im­ported prod­ucts worth US$6,67 bil­lion in 2019. This was dom­i­nated by ma­chin­ery, me­chan­i­cal ap­pli­ances (US$1,1 bil­lion), elec­tri­cal ma­chin­ery and equip­ment (US$615 mil­lion), and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts (US$471 mil­lion). Other top prod­ucts im­ported last year were ve­hi­cles and parts, ar­ti­cles of iron or steel, plas­tics, and in­or­ganic chem­i­cals as well as salt, sul­phur, earths and stone, plas­ter­ing ma­te­ri­als, lime and ce­ment.

At present, the top ex­port­ing coun­tries to DRC are China, South Africa, Zam­bia, Bel­gium, In­dia, Nether­lands, Namibia and France. Trade Map noted that Zim­babwe’s exports to DRC are “very” low, and last year, were largely dom­i­nated by plas­tics and ar­ti­cles of plas­tics.

“How­ever, there is room to in­crease trade to DRC by di­ver­si­fy­ing exports and tar­get­ing high de­mand prod­ucts in the DRC,” said ZimTrade.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief about the risks as­so­ci­ated with ex­port­ing to the DRC mar­ket, ZimTrade said there was in­valu­able po­ten­tial in that mar­ket, in par­tic­u­lar, the Katanga prov­ince where ZimTrade con­ducted a mar­ket sur­vey and iden­ti­fied vast op­por­tu­ni­ties in the min­ing sec­tor. DRC pro­duces more than 3 per­cent of the world’s cop­per and half its cobalt, most of which comes from Katanga re­gion. More­over, the min­ing sec­tor in the Katanga re­gion is com­posed of both large-scale min­ing firms and the small ar­ti­sanal min­ing op­er­a­tions.

“This presents a good op­por­tu­nity for Zim­bab­wean ex­porters of min­ing con­sum­ables, en­gi­neer­ing and safety solutions to do busi­ness with both small and large-scale min­ers in the Katanga re­gion.

“Some buy­ers in the DRC min­ing sec­tor have in­di­cated an ap­petite for Zim­babwe-pro­duced min­ing sup­plies such as pro­tec­tive cloth­ing,” said ZimTrade.

In the agri­cul­ture and pro­cessed foods sec­tor, ZimTrade said over the past few years, DRC has been mov­ing to­wards mod­ernising its agri­cul­ture sec­tor, creat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Zim­bab­wean com­pa­nies to sup­ply ap­pro­pri­ate tech­nolo­gies.

Re­quired prod­ucts that lo­cal businesses can sup­ply in­clude hand-held farm­ing equip­ment, trac­tors, cul­ti­va­tors, and planters. In ad­di­tion, a sur­vey by ZimTrade in­di­cated that most of the ru­ral small-holder farm­ers do not have live­stock such as cat­tle or don­keys to pro­vide an­i­mal-drawn im­ple­ments.

“This deficit, there­fore, presents an op­por­tu­nity for Zim­babwe to con­sider both live­stock and agri­cul­tural im­ple­ment exports.

“Re­lated to this, there is a grow­ing in­ter­est in an­i­mal hus­bandry in DRC, which is creat­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties es­pe­cially in poul­try farm­ing.

“Al­ready some lo­cal com­pa­nies are re­ceiv­ing in­quiries for hatch­ing eggs, an area that small­holder farm­ers could cap­i­talise on,” said the ex­port pro­mo­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion.

For agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, there is po­ten­tial to sup­ply tobacco, meat and ed­i­ble meat, sugar, ce­re­als, cot­ton, veg­eta­bles, fats and oils, nuts, fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles. The DRC is ripe for Fast Mov­ing Con­sumer Goods (FMCG) and lo­cal firms could max­imise on this. Zim­bab­wean com­pa­nies could also part­ner Zam­bian sup­pli­ers and pro­vide a lu­cra­tive pas­sage into DRC.

“The suc­cesses recorded by the South African sup­pli­ers, whose trucks pass through Zim­babwe daily, is an in­di­ca­tion of po­ten­tial in the DRC mar­ket that lo­cal com­pa­nies are still to take full ad­van­tage of, said the trade agency.

“Zim­babwe and DRC also en­joy cor­dial bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, which forms a good ba­sis for im­prov­ing trade be­tween the two coun­tries.

“This drive, cou­pled with as­pi­ra­tions of Vi­sion 2030, which tar­gets an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment that can sup­port a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion by Mi­cro, Small and Medium En­ter­prises to na­tional exports, means the Gov­ern­ment and re­lated in­sti­tu­tions are ready to sup­port lo­cal com­pa­nies in pen­e­trat­ing the DRC mar­ket,” said ZimTrade.

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