ZIMBABWE should consider setting up a national productivity centre to improve the country’s competitiveness, over two decades after the regional bloc gave the nod for this new entity, a new study has shown.
In 1999, the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) adopted a declaration on productivity in a bid to boost output in member states, but a few countries like Zimbabwe have been reluctant to set up the new structure.
Studies have shown that countries that have successfully managed to boost productivity have also created policies and institutional environments that promote confidence and trust in private enterprises.
Diversification through structural change – has also been cited as important source of total factor productivity in the economy.
Experts say benefits of high productivity include low costs that result in greater profits, improved remuneration packages for workers and better working conditions, lower prices, and better quality products for customers.
According to a study by economic consultant Reginald Chaoneka and presented during the Zimbabwe Economic Development Conference held in Victoria Falls recently, low productivity is one of the main challenges faced by Zimbabwe despite having a relatively diverse economy compared to regional peers.
This study assesses the effects of both the external environment and internal factors that drive firms’ productivity levels, so that the government prioritises resources in more critical areas to boost productivity.
“Given that a number of stakeholders are involved, it may be necessary for the Government of Zimbabwe to establish a National Productivity Centre as agreed to in the 1999 Sadc Declaration on Productivity,” reads the study.
“The Government of Zimbabwe may need to consider incentives to harness local technological developments. The exemption of duty on equipment imports, which was introduced in 2016 is a welcome development. Institutions that drive scientific research were set up a long time ago, such as the Scientific Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), however, these institutions have been poorly funded and thus, they struggle in their efforts to provide public scientific knowledge, which private firms could use for innovation.”
The Sadc region encourages member states to establish national productivity centres, since they play a crucial role in facilitating the removal of impediments such as tax obstacles, electricity and water challenges to firms’ productivity levels, and in creating awareness of productivity issues.
Productivity centres also monitor productivity trends and lead the productivity movement in forward-looking economies.
The study also shows that investment in energy and water infrastructure is also key in driving productivity.
“It is necessary for the Zimbabwean government to engage in public-private partnerships with investors that have an interest in power generation,” the study shows.
“Clean energy is also critical for the country’s sustainable growth, hence investment in solar farms is much warranted.
“Water is very important for firms’ productivity levels. The inefficiency of public water providers affects firms’ efficiency in the manufacturing sector, since the majority of firms rely on public water supply. The problem of water supply reliability is not due to a lack of water resources, but rather a result of inadequate water infrastructure, and lack of capacity in purifying dam water.”— STAFF WRITER.