Midlands State University(MSU) hosted a rural industrialisation brainstorming session at the University’s main campus in Gweru on the 29th of March 2022.
The event was attended by university personnel, officials from the ministries of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, Climate and Rural Development, Mines and Mining Development, Industry and Commerce as well as representatives from the Forestry Commission and small-scale miners.
Meeting delegates sought to create a roadmap towards rural industrialisation in line with the national development vision as espoused in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).
In his address outlining the objectives and outcomes of the meeting, Permanent Secretary for Provincial Affairs and Devolution in the Midlands Province Mr Abiot Maronge underscored the importance of NDS1 in driving the President’s Vision 2030 aimed at creating an empowered and prosperous upper-middle-income society by 2030.
The brainstorming session identified priority areas and created a roadmap for the province’s rural industrialisation initiative.
In addition, the Permanent Secretary said that the members present also needed to scan the environment to identify focus areas where available resources could be allocated to exploit opportunities in the province.
The Permanent Secretary also noted that there is a need to come up with a smaller team that is going to lead the initiative with set timelines.
Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grace Mugumbate reiterated the importance of laying out a roadmap with clear timelines for the industrialisation of rural areas in the province.
MSU Enterprises Development Unit Executive Director Mr Alex Mukwembi said that when Vision 2030 was launched, universities had to revise their way of doing business.
The mandate of the university shifted from strictly learning to including innovation and industrialisation. He added that in line with the new trajectory towards innovation and industrialisation, MSU established the Enterprises and Development Unit.
This Unit houses the Chemical Manufacturing, Clothing and Textiles, Pharmaceutical and Food Processing and the Press and Publications Unit.
Mr Mukwembi also pointed out that rural industrialisation in Zimbabwe is possible only if the nation makes a mindset shift that accommodates the rural folk in national development since 67.76% of the population lives in rural areas.
He cited that the President, Cde. Dr Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is on record saying that national development will not leave anyone behind.
He then defined industrialisation as the establishment of physical space which is conducive for the mass production of goods. That is the type of industry that will lead to economic development, Mkwembi added.
Mr Mukwembi highlighted that that some of the strategies that can be applied for the industrialisation of rural communities include the establishment of market gardening cooperatives; food processing, decentralisation of manufacturing plants and ensuring that products are everywhere; using appropriate equipment and establishing small industries in rural communities.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Lecturer Dr Alphonce Tavona Shiri led a session under the theme, “Environmental Scanning-Resource Endowment and Comparative Advantages,” in which he underlined the pathways that can lead to rural transformation.
Dr Shiri gave examples from the mining and dairy industries to emphasize that the endowments in the province can serve as a springboard for rural industrialisation.
The brainstorming session was attended by MSU principal officers and delegates among them MSU Registrar Mr Tinashe Zishiri and Director of MSU Marketing and Public Relations Mirirai Mawere.