A LOCAL business pressure group, Bulawayo Business Arise (BBA), has submitted a proposal to the Industry and Commerce ministry aimed at helping the new Zanu PF administration draw up strategies of reviving Bulawayo industry, which is in the doldrums owing to a combination of economic challenges, among them a severe liquidity crunch.
In the proposal submitted last week to new Industry and Commerce minister Mike Bimha, perused by our sister paper Southern Eye, BBA wants Bulawayo to be declared a special economic industrial zone.
According to the pressure group, economic zones have propelled the economic development of countries such as China, India and South Africa as they command incentives that are favourable to investors.
It, however, raises concerns that it would be an onerous task to revive the textile sector, citing the influx of cheap textile imports flooding the market, particularly from the Far East.
The business pressure group suggests that the government should craft a new business model to address the stiff competition facing the entire local textile industry as Bulawayo is home to clothing firms employing thousands of locals, but currently battling to stay afloat.
“In Bulawayo, clothing industries will not take off easily unless the issue of markets has been properly addressed through policies that promote local industries,” reads part of the submission.
“It is time to find our economic model as a nation and use it to reposition ourselves for growth and sustainability,” added BBA.
“Our proposal is to establish Free Trade Zones in sectors such as Information Technology (IT), Medicine and Global Processing Systems, and when we have an IT free economic zone, for example, it will lead to Bulawayo emerging as an Information Communication region.”
BBA said Zimbabwe had become one of the world’s most attractive consumer markets and the government should explore the impact of new wealth on business and commerce and what new business models were likely to trigger economic growth.
It further proposes that the government should come up with technology-driven business model innovations which would address the current complex economic and environmental sustainability challenges.
The pressure group expected the government to lay a foundation for a sound business climate required for firms to prosper as well as provide the legal and regulatory frameworks required for growth.