Govt embarks on accelerated MSMEs workspace construction

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Harare (New Ziana) – The Zimbabwe government has started an accelerated program to construct decent workspaces for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as part of efforts to capacitate them to increase production and add value to their products as well as to promote rural industrialisation, a senior official has said.

Presenting a Ministerial Statement in the National Assembly, deputy Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Jennifer Mhlanga said the government was implementing the programmein collaboration with local authorities and was targeting to construct seven workspaces across the country next year.

“Under the programme, the government is working in collaboration with local authorities to renovate existing or put up new modern workspaces for MSMEs with designs, taking into account the type of businesses or trades to be housed,” she said.

Mhlanga said the types of workspaces being considered included factory shelves and distribution hubs, commercial hives, multi-storey market malls for MSMEs and retail, production and distribution centres, cold chain, cold rooms for workspace where fresh products were sold.

“The workspaces should be well partitioned with glass and aluminium warehouses and store rooms, toilets, wash rooms to include three designs to facilitate use by people with disabilities and canteen service provision office,” she said.

She said the MSMEs workspaces would also be provided through Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) where local authorities would partner with property developers or engage directly with the beneficiaries who they could provide serviced land and they could provide financial resources, labour and other non-financial resources.

“In the current year, Treasury has provided 150 million for workspace construction,” she said, adding her Ministry had since entered into agreements with three local authorities, namely Gweru City Council, Chikomba Rural District Council, and Gwanda Municipality where the government was providing funding and the local authorities were providing the land and technical support.

“Construction is under way and it is at various stages in these local authorities.”

Mhlanga said MSMEs including the informal sector occupied a strategic position in the macro-economic environment in the post COVID-19 recovery process and the achievement of Vision 2030.

She said to fully harness the immense socio-economic potential of the sector, there was need to capacitate them from the primary stage right to maturity by providing important economic enablers, and modern workplaces were one of them.

The rapid growth of the sector coupled with limited investment, spatial development and regulatory bottlenecks has resulted in excess demand for workspace by MSMEs, with the COVID-19 outbreak worsening the situation as it led to the closure and demolition of some which were designated as unorganised, unregulated, congested and unsafe.

Over 30 000 SMEs and informal sector operators were affected by the demolitions which took place around the country.

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