By Enacy Mapakame
Government is receptive to investment in the steel industry that promotes growth of the small to medium enterprises together with beneficiation and value addition across value chains, Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha has said.
Dr Bimha was speaking at the launch of Steel Brands Limited’s $12 million factory in Harare, which produces steel bars from scrap metal.
When fully operational, the factory will create 450 jobs directly and hundreds others across value chains, especially for the SME sector.
Already, Steel Brands has created 250 jobs and made purchases from SMEs amounting to $186 000 of scrap metal in its first month. Dr Bimha said the steel company’s thrust on value addition was commendable and in line with Government’s policy of value addition and beneficiation.
“The company’s activities have stimulated the growth of a vibrant SME sector, which supplies and sells scrap.
“It is pleasing to note that Steel Brands Limited’s operations are also in line with Government’s thrust on import substitution, which Government intends to implement through Local Content Policy,” said Dr Bimha.
The steel industry is one of the key components in the manufacturing sector, mining as well as construction industries and its role in economic activities cannot be over emphasised.
“Companies which have been depended on imports can now get the same products from Steel Brands at competitive prices, thereby saving the much needed foreign currency in the country,” he said.
Construction of the factory was completed in 2016.
Test runs were done on the machinery, which showed technical challenges, resulting in the factory ceasing operations. However, due to the importance of the project, Government instituted an inter- ministerial committee comprising of the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Office of the President and Cabinet, Ministry of Industry, City of Harare and National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to oversee some test runs to ensure it met all conditions.
Harare Metropolitan Provincial Affairs Minister Miriam Chikukwa, said commissioning of the factory yesterday was a relief specifically for the SME sector.
“Entrepreneurs in the informal sector are benefiting through sale of scrap metal to Steel Brands. The value chains created by the establishment of Steel Brands are indeed positive development in our efforts to turn around our economy in the new dispensation whose rallying cry has been that — Zimbabwe is open for Business,” she said.