INTERNATIONAL Trade Centre (ITC) executive director Arancha Gonzalez said Zimbabwe should concentrate on beneficiation of raw materials and diversification of its economy to create employment for its swelling ranks of the unemployed.
Gonzalez was speaking in an exclusive interview to the NewsDay before the launch of Zimbabwe-European Union Business Information Centre (Zim-Ebic) last week Friday.
She said Zimbabwe was in a better position to create employment by diversifying its economy and doing value addition as it had a variety of natural endowments which include minerals and agro-industrial products.
“I have visited a local tannery and realised that the country can create more jobs by simply having more value addition than exporting raw hides to European markets,” Gonzalez said.
She added: “I learnt that every job in the tannery five people immediately benefits and five more in the rural areas become secondary beneficiaries. So the more you have workers the more you have spill over to the economy.”
Gonzalez said Zimbabwe which was rich in cattle should go the extra mile of adding value to the raw hides by transforming the skins into leather for sale or even still add value the leather by making shoes, coats, belts and furniture.
“The more processing or value addition done the more the jobs that are created and the higher the value the end product can be sold on the market,” she said.
However, Gonzalez warned that value addition was a product of dialogue between government and private players.
She said value addition is premised on three fundamental issues.
“The three main elements are necessary skills and training, access to finance and a conducive business environment that includes coherent trade policy,” she said.
Gonzalez further said Zimbabwe should look into ways of encouraging mobilisation of domestic finance to fund small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are currently being choked by high interest rates.
“Double digit interest rates are not affordable to SMEs and therefore it is crucial that the country can look at creating a good SME Fund and crowd funding,” she added.