By Sydney Kawadza
The African continent and Zimbabwe, in particular, should start benefiting from its vast resources while using latest digital innovations that would spur economic development, Zimbabwean-born pan-African entrepreneur Langton Chirinda has said.
The Australian-based was among 10 semi-finalists in the African Continental Free Trade Area Caravan Prize which also had five other Zimbabweans in the finals.
The Zimbabweans, Piwai Nigel Chikasha of Alley Capital Group, Tapuwa Ndongwe (Wecol Limited), Mildreight Muzendu (Africa Free Trade Area), Chirinda (Gundi Consulting) and Rukudzo Chikonye of Agora, were among 19 African businesspeople chosen from 1 500 entries.
In an interview, Chirinda expressed deep concern that Africa is the richest and youngest population and yet it is the poorest.
“Why has it taken us so many years to realize that we should stop over relying on the mere export of our valuable mineral resources in raw form and make the final products locally and create jobs and exports for our economies?
“Why should Africa import cars, computers, agricultural equipment and defence equipment among others instead of making them locally using 3D Additive Manufacturing? These are the issues which led me to participate in the AfCFTA Caravan,” he said.
He said the AfCFTA was a game changer for Africa if it is successfully implemented across the continent.
“Africa needs to speak to the world markets as one voice and build competitiveness on the global playing ground. The AfCFTA is the answer! Africa needs to rebrand from a continent associated with hunger and lack of opportunities to a leading continent on the global table.
“The brain drain must stop and a better Africa through the AfCFTA is the answer. Our collaborative efforts via the AfCFTA will change the African story to a reputable brand which all of us across the continent and in Zimbabwe will be proud to be associated with.”
Chirinda said his desire was for Zimbabwe to be a pioneer in the adoption, training and implementation of 3D Additive Manufacturing to solve its pressing unemployment and foreign currency dilemma.
“Africa and Zimbabwe must not pay the price of delayed action on adopting, training and implementing 3D Additive Manufacturing going forward.
“This is my biggest worry for the AfCFTA and my country of birth Zimbabwe and that is, being too slow when we are supposed to be flying with it. Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America are already flying with this and yet Africa has not even started.
“Africa has the biggest strategic advantage as it possesses the vast mineral resources used in 3D manufacturing – we need to move fast as Zimbabwe and the AfCFTA,” he said.
The avid AfCFTA supporter said he had always wanted to be part of the drivers of this important change for our continent.
“I was therefore very excited to be recognized through the AfCFTA Caravan as this is the best platform to see my dream of industrializing Africa come true.
“I want to be at the centre of creating the African Century and make Africa the best place to be and avoid the brain drain the continent is suffering from at the moment.
“We have the best leader in the Secretary General of the AfCFTA and I am pleased to be part of his colleagues to drive Africa forward through this AfCFTA Caravan,” he said.
Chirinda, who was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Australia in 2009, said growth for individuals or societies, should be driven through innovation adding that entrepreneurship should be nurtured as a family and societal culture as it provided value through job creation and exports.
“I believe that growth is a mind-set which realises that value is not static and that we must always look for areas to transform value and challenge other societies’ best products of their thinking,” he said.
Chirinda had business entities in Zimbabwe and Zambia before his move Down Under.
“I came to Australia, not to live there for good but to learn about what drives the Australian industries and society and then take that mind-set back to Zimbabwe and Africa to change our narrative,” he said.
He studied for a Master of Business Administration focusing on International Business at Edith Cowan University in Australia before studying for a Juris Doctor (Law) focusing on Start-up Law and International contracts at Bond University in Australia.
“My desire has always been about how I can use these skills to develop Zimbabwe and Africa and transform our story,” he said.
Chirinda’s Gundi Consulting Africa Pty Ltd is registered in Kigali, Rwanda.
It specialises in consulting services to promote the rapid adoption, training and implementation of 3D Additive Manufacturing across Africa.
“Africa is blessed with vast mineral resources which are used in the manufacturing of final products such as assembling kits for automobiles, agricultural equipment, computer equipment, aerospace equipment, defense equipment and many others. Yet the continent is over relying on exporting raw mineral resources while getting very little value for such minerals.
Our business wants Africa to take advantage of having the raw materials so that it can transform them into valuable parts, components and tools and create new manufacturing industries across the continent.”
Gundi Consulting Pty Ltd provides an end to end service for 3D Manufacturing so that it can be industrialized across the continent.
“We provide services to process raw mineral resources into 3D power or wire. We provide the equipment to process the minerals and also the printers used to manufacture the final products as well as providing world class 3D training to equip the youthful continent with 3D AM skills.
“We also build 3D Additive manufacturing centres of excellence for governments and the private sector where people would come and be trained hands on how the entire 3D Additive Manufacturing system works.”
The AfCFTA Caravan Prize celebrates Africa’s SMEs, start-ups, social enterprises and innovator entities keen on harnessing the benefits that will be created by AfCFTA to expand continentally and flourish at the grassroots.
Growing out of the earlier AfCFTA Vision and Caravan Africa competitive grants programmes, the Prize also seeks to discover transformative ideas to expedite AfCFTA implementation.
The AfCFTA is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 and was approved by the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012 which adopted the decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area.
It aims at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
The AfCFTA Agreement was signed on March 21, 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and came into force on May 30 the following year.
The scope of the AfCFTA Agreement includes the Protocol on Trade in Goods, the Protocol on Trade in Services, and the Protocol on Rules and Procedures on the Settlement of Disputes, the Protocol on Investment, the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights, the Protocol on Competition, the Protocol on Digital Trade, and the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.