Zimbabwe: Major boost for SMEs
Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Herald Reporter
August 05, 2008
The Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe yesterday officially launched the Indo-Zimbabwe Project and state-of-the-art equipment worth about US$4 million procured from India for use by small and medium enterprises.

Zimbabwe and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2006 in which the latter pledged US$5 million for the development of the small and medium enterprises sector in the country.

Speaking before a gathering that included the Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Venkatesan Ashok, and senior Government officials at the Harare Institute of Technology, President Mugabe hailed the Indian government for its continued support and challenged SMEs to take advantage of the project.

President Mugabe expressed his sincere gratitude and that of the Government of Zimbabwe to the government of India for its continued support in the development of the SMEs sector in Zimbabwe.

The President said India and Zimbabwe enjoyed close and cordial relations dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.

"The machinery which we are launching today is worth more than US$3,8 million. Some of the machines have already been installed here at the Indo-Zim Technology Centre which has branches also housed at the Harare Institute of Technology, Bulawayo Polytechnic and Small Enterprises Development Corporation's Chitungwiza factory shells," he said.

The Indo-Zimbabwe Project seeks to promote technology transfer by introducing new technologies like computer-numerically-controlled machines and other modern equipment for carpentry and metal fabrication.

India has provided precision high technology machines and measuring instruments for the training and manufacture of tools and dyes including computer-numerically-controlled machines used to impart training skills.

President Mugabe said the machines would be utilised by SMEs as common facility centres.

Government plans to install such machines for rural facility centres.

President Mugabe said technological innovation has diversified in the global market and demanded SMEs to provide quality products and services.

He said the Indo-Zimbabwe Project would assist in building the country's industrial base as well as developing technically qualified entrepreneurs to set up businesses.

"I would like to urge SMEs to take advantage of this project and produce quality and competitive products. It is therefore necessary that SMEs move from traditional and general type of businesses to high-tech enterprises that will increase national wealth and earn the country foreign currency," President Mugabe said.

He challenged SMEs to venture into new territories and pledged Government's full support.

President Mugabe said the equipment and machinery would also benefit large enterprises.

"For example, the plastic industry will certainly benefit since tools and dyes are made locally whilst mining, railway and other heavy industries will also benefit as spare parts and components required are manufactured locally. Local electronics industries are also set to benefit through the manufacture of printed circuit boards and the training of personnel."

He said Zimbabwe was excited about the project as it was poised to mould a new techno brand of SMEs which would contribute significantly towards saving scarce foreign currency.

Mr Ashok said his country was aware of the importance Zimbabwe placed to the development of SMEs.

"This project has had a long gestation since 1996, when my government, under the aegis of G-15 co-operation, announced 'a grant-in-aid' of US$5 million for the development of SMEs in Zimbabwe. We wish to express appreciation to the Government of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises Development for the co-operation extended to us," he said.

Mr Ashok said India and Zimbabwe had long ties as evidenced by the Asian country's involvement in a number of activities in the country.

He expressed India's wish to see companies from that country investing in power, railways, mining, energy, dairy and the agriculture sector and hoped the launch of the Indo-Zimbabwe Project would mark the beginning of sustained co-operation between the two countries.

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