Germany’s leading volunteering organisation Senior Experten Service (Der Welt Experten Dienst) signed an agreement with a Zimbabwean trade promotion body ZimTrade on November 9 to give technical assistance to small and medium enterprises in Zimbabwe.
This will enable the businesses to produce goods that meet export standards, and also increase the potential for more local business partnerships.
Under the memorandum of understanding signed in Harare, experts from the Bonn-based Senior Experten Services will also provide technical assistance to local companies mainly small and medium scale enterprises in their manufacturing processes.
“The partnership being solemnised here will positively impact on the competitiveness of our products, not only in export markets but locally, as companies will be assisted to produce more efficiently,” ZimTrade board chairman Lance Jena said.
“This intervention will assist to reposition our industry, especially small to medium enterprises, to become key drivers of export growth,” said Jena. “Through the technical assistance, the products they produce will meet standards demanded by the targeted international markets.”
Germany’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Thorsten Hutter said the experts from Germany would offer “invaluable experience” to manufacturers in Zimbabwe and urged Zimbabwean businesses to increase trade with their counterparts abroad to create business partnerships and promote investment.
“When you start to have higher volumes of trade, that is when the issue of investment starts to come up,” Ambassador Hutter said.
“What can we do to improve trade? As you know, Germany does not have its own sovereign trade policy because we are part of the European Union but, of course, we are not a small member state of the European Union.
”In fact, when it comes to economic issues and trade issues, we are the largest member state of the European Union. That is why we take strong interest in opening up trade relations with other partners around the world
“We do have an economic partnership agreement between the European Union and Zimbabwe, which is forward looking and which opens up opportunities for trade. So, we in fact encourage trade, we encourage Zimbabwean exports into the European Union under no obstacles.”
Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downward slide for over a decade with local business downsizing, migrating or shutting down.
The country’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over from veteran ruler Robert Mugabe has pledged reforms to revive the economy and create jobs.
Senior Experten Service is a volunteer organisation for retired Germany experts with vast experience in the manufacturing value chain including processes design, factory floor layout, production technologies, materials handling and product design.
The organisation has access to knowledge and experience of over 12,000 experts from all professional spheres.
The experts are expected to train local businesses on how to produce quality export products and generate foreign currency at a time the country is facing a critical liquidity crunch.
Jena said the agreement was signed at a time Zimbabwe is battling to increase exports and shore up its dwindling foreign currency reserves.
A survey by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries found that small to medium scale enterprises in Zimbabwe are operating 37 percent below capacity mainly due to lack of skills.