Value ad­di­tion and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion way to go, says ED

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Vin­cent Gono Fea­tures Edi­tor

PRES­I­DENT Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has called on the coun­try to make gi­ant strides to­wards value ad­di­tion and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion of min­er­als and agri­cul­tural pro­duce if it is to move away from the pit­tance of low re­turns on ex­ports.

He said the con­ti­nent should not con­tend it­self with the tra­di­tion of be­ing a net ex­porter of raw ma­te­ri­als whose ef­fect was that of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties be­ing trans­ferred to other coun­tries but should value add and en­sure the pro­vi­sion of em­ploy­ment for its pop­u­la­tions.

In his weekly in­stal­ments in this pa­per and our sis­ter pa­per The Sun­day Mail, the Pres­i­dent un­der­scored the need for the coun­try and the con­ti­nent at large not to sit on their lau­rels but to en­sure they de­velop ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion ini­tia­tives and get high value re­turns for their min­er­als. He called on uni­ver­si­ties and col­leges to play an ac­tive role in creat­ing value chains that are un­der­pinned by ter­tiary skills, re­search, de­vel­op­ment and in­no­va­tions that cre­ate and man ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

“The no­tion of value chains comes from the idea of fully ex­ploit­ing the con­ti­nent’s re­sources in or­der to in­dus­tri­alise our economies so they go beyond the cur­rent level where we ex­port pri­mary prod­ucts which do not give us much value. Much worse, it means Africa trans­fers or ex­ports jobs to other economies and re­gions which ben­e­fi­ci­ate its raw min­er­als, even though the con­ti­nent reg­is­ters high lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment,” he said.

He added that the goal was to move and trans­form African economies up the value chain so that the con­ti­nent was able to ex­port fin­ished goods which fetch more value in global mar­kets. Just look­ing at a few key min­er­als like gold, plat­inum, di­a­monds and iron, the pic­ture be­comes clear: Africa ends at the min­ing or pro­duc­tion stage of the value chain.

For Zim­babwe he said things would only change if firstly the coun­try mined or pro­duced more; se­condly if it adds value and ben­e­fi­ci­ates more through pro­cess­ing and re­fin­ing min­er­als; and thirdly if it linked pro­cessed and re­fined min­er­als to the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor in or­der to in­dus­tri­alise fur­ther.

“Her ex­ter­nal trade would be driven by cap­i­tal and fin­ished goods, and not raw ma­te­ri­als. That way, the goal of a sustainable up­per mid­dle-in­come econ­omy by 2030 would be within grasp. Clearly our coun­try needs a new growth path based on a broad ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion strat­egy. To my mind, a good start­ing point is to mo­bilise and or­gan­ise avail­able na­tional skills so we de­fine our re­source en­dow­ments in the first place. Fol­low­ing on this, we must map value chains that are pos­si­ble in our cir­cum­stances. Then we must de­cide on strate­gies for op­er­a­tional­is­ing those value chains,” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa.

He noted that the coun­try had done ex­cep­tion­ally well to ed­u­cate its pop­u­la­tion and to build mod­ern skills for what was called “In­dus­try 4.0”, or the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion, which was driven by dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies to cre­ate in­dus­tries which have low or zero car­bon emis­sions for a green world.

“Out­side home ef­forts, our well-ed­u­cated Zim­bab­weans in the Di­as­pora have aug­mented the na­tional knowl­edge and skills stock. But this vast pool of na­tional knowl­edge and skill now needs to be mo­bilised and or­gan­ised sys­tem­at­i­cally to heed a new na­tional call. We need to mech­a­nise and in­dus­tri­alise in or­der to leapfrog de­vel­op­men­tally. We need clear path­ways to mech­a­nise and in­dus­tri­alise for strate­gic value chains,” he said.

He added that al­though the coun­try was now mak­ing a be­gin­ning on the front of ben­e­fi­ci­at­ing our plat­inum, in agri­cul­ture the coun­try adds value and ben­e­fi­ci­ates lo­cally only 30 per­cent of the cot­ton she pro­duces while the rest goes abroad as raw cot­ton ex­ports. (For the full ar­ti­cle by the Pres­i­dent turn to page 8).

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