Friday, November 09, 2007

(HERALD) ‘Zim has capacity to create opportunities’

‘Zim has capacity to create opportunities’
Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWEANS should not worry about searching for greener pastures outside the country as they have the capacity to work on their own to create these opportunities, Vice President Joseph Msika, has said. Speaking after touring the Indo-Zim Technology Centre at the Harare Institute of Technology yesterday, Cde Msika said Zimbabweans should take advantage and utilise equipment donated to the institute to economically develop the country. The project seeks to promote technology transfer by introducing new technologies in carpentry and metal fabrication in support of SMEs.

"The people, who are going to benefit from this centre should be committed to the development of the nation by seriously putting these machines to productive use," he said.

The Zimbabwean and Indian governments signed a memorandum of understanding in 1996 with India providing a US$5 million grant for the development of SMEs in the country. The grant has seen the establishment of the technology centre for the manufacturing of tools and components.

The Vice President hailed bilateral relations between the two countries dating back to the days of the liberation struggle, adding that the Indian government should continue supporting the Government in its economic development endeavours through SMEs.

"The Indo-Zim project is further proof of the close and cordial relations that exist between the Government of Zimbabwe and the Government of India (which) is in line with the Government’s Look East policy," he said.

Cde Msika also commended the Indian Embassy in Zimbabwe for working closely with the Government on development issues.

"Unlike other ambassadors from the West who are busy telling lies and destroying the image of the country, ambassadors from the East are working closely with our Government and are assisting developing nations across the world," he said.

He said the Indo-Zim Project seeks to promote technology transfer by introducing new technologies such as computerised machinery and modern equipment in carpentry and metal fabrication.

"This of course complements our Government’s policy to harness the potential of SMEs and empower them to operate as large enterprises. I am sure that this technology will speed up this empowerment process," he said.

He added that machinery worth more than US$3 million has already arrived in the country and was being installed at HIT, Bulawayo Polytechnic, Sedco, Chitungwiza Common Facility Centre and various other centres throughout the country. Cde Msika said 19 Zimbabweans have been trained in India in the fields of tool and die making, tool design and computer controlled technology.

"This training will ensure the smooth transfer of technology, which will contribute to the production of quality products at competitive prices by SMEs.

"Large enterprises are also set to benefit. For example, the plastic industry will benefit tools and dye, which can be made locally, and save foreign currency for the country," he said.

"Mining, railways and other heavy industries will also benefit as spares and components required can be made locally, utilising the high technology machines installed here and in Bulawayo.

"Local electronics industries will also benefit through the manufacture of printed circuit boards."

In a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development, Cde Morris Sakabuya, the Acting Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Cde Ignatius Chombo said HIT was providing the nation with scientific and high level technical human resources.

He said the Indo-Zim Technology Centre is seen as critical in the Government’s efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals by eradication of poverty and hunger through skills development and empowering of the marginalised groups of the society.

"This development is indeed a milestone for the institution and for the entire nation as it seeks to produce dynamic, innovative and entrepreneurial graduates richly endowed with knowledge and practical skills.

"It is our desire to have HIT become the leading institution for the development, incubation, transfer and commercialisation of technology and manpower development for rapid national industrialisation not only in this country, but the Sadc region as a whole," he said.

Cde Chombo said the collaboration arrangements and strategic partnerships between the Ministry of Small to Medium Enterprises Development and his ministry was long-standing.

"We currently collaborate in the Integrated Skills Outreach Programme which focuses on equipping our schools youths and adults with relevant knowledge and practical skills. This will help in wealth creation and productive economic activities such as building, carpentry, welding, piggery and poultry production."

Cde Chombo added that his ministry accepts the responsibility of training and developing skills in SMEs, hence, the decision to have HIT at the forefront of implementing the Indo-Zim Technology Centre project.

Cde Chombo said HIT’s training philosophy of integrated solutions for Zimbabwe’s industrial growth is based on the provision of trained, skilled and innovative manpower.

The Technology Centre will have three strategic units, namely, the Technical Training Centre, the Common Facility Centre (Production Unit) and the Small Medium Enterprises Services Institute.

The Minister of Small to Medium enterprises Development, Cde Sithembiso Nyoni, said the technology centre would see a revolution of the SMEs sector.

She said that besides the machines to be installed at HIT, Bulawayo Polytechnic and Sedco factory shells in Chitungwiza there were 34 other machines that would be distributed to growth points in the country.

"The installation of these machines will establish a techno-brand in the country that would benefit SMEs in the country and other SMEs from the region," she said.

The Acting Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Vijay Mehta emphasized his government’s commitment and importance that it attaches to the expeditious implementation of the project.

Mr Mehta said the machines sent from India would help in upgrading SMEs in Zimbabwe through the introduction of latest manufacturing technologies, which are currently not available in southern Africa, except South Africa.

"Zimbabwe could become a regional centre for high technology areas covering tool and die making and computerised technology in the Sadc."

Ambassador Mehta added that the project will also result in enormous benefit and large savings in foreign exchange for the country in many ways while mining, railways and other heavy industries will also benefit.

He added that over 500 youths could be trained annually at institutions of higher learning while another 200 youths, mostly school dropouts, could be trained in carpentry through Vocational Training Centres.

He added that the project would contribute significantly to the Government’s efforts to turnaround the economy.

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