BULAWAYO will be the centre of attraction this week as the 55th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) that kicked off yesterday gathers pace.
The trade showcase running under the theme “New Ideas to New Heights: Progress Through Innovation” will end on Saturday.
China is the biggest foreign exhibitor at this year’s edition of the fair, which has attracted the highest number of exhibitors in a long time.
However, it is worrying that Bulawayo-based companies are again not very visible at the fair.
Last year Harare companies comprised 57% of local exhibitors, with Bulawayo firms accounting for 35%. The trend is likely to remain the same this year.
Bulawayo used to be the industrial hub of Zimbabwe, but the city has been losing its lustre over the years due to a number of factors that include uncertainties over future water supplies.
The closure of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (now NewZim Steel) and the problems dogging the National Railways of Zimbabwe have largely been blamed for the demise of the city’s industries.
There are also global issues such as the liquidity crunch, obsolete machinery, influx of cheap imports and lack of investor friendly policies to breathe life into the national economy.
On the sidelines of the ZITF, there will be an investment conference that kicks off today under the theme: “ZimAsset setting the tone for the revitalisation of Zimbabwe’s industries”.
The theme could not have been more apt. Zimbabwe desperately needs to chart a new course in its economic development agenda and the conference offers a unique opportunity for an exchange of ideas.
A number of interventions have been put on the table such as the Distressed Industries and Marginalisation Fund, but none seem to be working, especially for Bulawayo.
Local companies need to take advantage of the presence of foreign exhibitors at the fair to search for new markets for their products.
The latest edition of the ZITF should be able to breathe life into the comatose economy and set Zimbabwe back on the revival path.