Government is set to receive about $2 million from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) to capacitate the country’s leather and cotton value chains, Finance deputy minister Terrence Mukupe has said.
BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
“I was in Zambia and we managed to secure close to €1,7 million ($2 million) from Comesa for the leather and cotton value chains and I think, for us, it is another feather in the cap for our new government that everyone is willing to engage and people are wishing us well. You can tell with the levels of support coming to us. That is why we are having all these facilities, I think we are in a great place as a country. It’s almost immediate,” he said.
The leather industry has been facing viability challenges due to the country’s harsh economic environment.
Last month, one of the country’s leading exotic leather shoes manufacturer, Millennium Footwear, told NewsDay Business that it was experiencing major constraints such as cash shortages, shortage of raw materials, low buying power of customers, inflated prices when paying by real-time gross settlement and competition from second-hand shoe vendors.
Zimbabwe’s exports of leather products have been declining, according to ZimTrade data. It said the country exported $374 000 worth of leather products in 2014, compared to $591 000 and $486 000 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
The Comesa funding for the leather and cotton industry comes after the African Export-Import Bank last week pledged to inject $1,5 billion to stabilise the country’s economy.
Prior to that, government has signed three agreements with China that will see the construction of a new Parliament, high performance computer centre and rehabilitation of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport to the tune $213 million.
Last month, Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development minister Mike Bimha said the ministry was mobilising resources
through the African Development Bank Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance Support for the beef and leather value chains.
Mukupe said he met former Zimbabwean white farmers in Zambia, who were willing to come back and boost the country’s agriculture sector.