The use of aluminium in coming up with beautiful houses and offices is taking the world by storm. Many people, individuals and corporates included, are choosing the aluminium route, be it for windows, doors, shop fittings and partitions.
zwnews24.com’s Brian Kazungu had an interview with Solomon Muzenza from Aluconsult, a business that specialises in Aluminium Consultancy, Aluminium Fabrication Estimation, Aluminium Fabrication Training, Project Management as well as Fabrication and Installation Drawings in order for them to share their story with home owners and businesses concerning aluminium products and services.
Solomon is a Mechanical Engineer with vast experience in the Aluminium industry, specialising in designing and producing handbooks and manuals on the usage of aluminium, new product design, die and engineering drawings, estimation of quantities of metal and accessories on window & door frames and interpretation of all engineering drawings.
zwnews24: Would you briefly describe the background, nature and business mandate of AluConsult?
Aluconsult: Having noticed the rise of aluminium usage in most modern buildings and structures as well as the lack of knowledge on the proper application of aluminium products, we therefore saw a gap that needed to be filled, hence the formation of Aluconsult, in 2019. Aluconsult is a registered enterprise in Zimbabwe.
Our mandate is to equip existing artisans with the appropriate knowledge which enables them to fabricate and install structurally sound and visually appealing aluminium structures for their clients. Our target also extends to existing and aspiring shop fitters. We offer training which enables them to eventually start their own businesses and thus potentially reducing the unemployment rate in our country. We also have property owners in mind, because after saving for many years to build their dream properties, they would definitely need the best products and services possible especially where aluminium is concerned. We are there to advise them on the best processes, products and systems to use in managing their project up to completion.
zwnews24: What is the main motivation and major push for you to engage in this infrastructure related, especially the aluminium centric type of business that you are involved in?
Aluconsult: Having worked in the aluminium industry for many years, the team behind Aluconsult takes pride in having been technically involved in so many big projects that brings out the beauty of buildings and which guarantees value to property owners. Sharing and utilising the knowledge that we have acquired for the good of others and in the best interest of our stakeholders gives us utmost pleasure and energy to pursue this dream.
zwnews24: What are the different products and services that you are offering? Would you describe what each of these products and services is all about and the intended benefit of each of these to your targeted and actual clients?
Aluconsult: Basically, we offer Consultancy, Aluminium Fabrication Estimation, Aluminium Fabrication Training, Project Management as well as Fabrication and Installation Drawings.
The increased use of aluminum in all modern buildings and structures should be coupled with increased knowledge on proper application and handling aluminum products as well. As such, we extend our consultancy services to Property owners, Architects, Quantity Surveyors and Shop Fitters etc.
- Aluminum Fabrication Estimation
We do Quotations, Cutting Lists, Project Costing and Bills of Materials (BOM) etc. for your projects. You don’t have to make a loss first before you call us. Just do it right the first time and let us help you all the way.
- Aluminum Fabrication Training
All existing shop fitters are welcome to upgrade their knowledge of aluminum usage with us. We also train aspiring shop fitters who want to start their own businesses or who would like to look for employment somewhere.
- Project Management
We effectively manage projects from site survey, fabrication and installation, up to commissioning.
- Fabrication and Installation Drawings
All work has to be reduced to working drawings for a project to be professionally executed. As such, the good news is that, such is our specialty. You can have a good night’s sleep, while we take care of business.
zwnews24: How has the market responded to your products and services so far since inception and what can you attribute to such kind of a response?
Aluconsult: The market is very excited with our products and services: It’s like they have been waiting for us for a long time.
zwnews24: What is it that is unique about yourself, your team and your services, that set you apart, and which helps you to stand out among various service providers who are in the same category with you?
Aluconsult: We are not competing with anyone at the moment, because we are the best there is in the market. Our experience speaks for itself, our works can testify on our behalf.
zwnews24: What do you believe and understand are the main advantages to your clients when they engage Aluconsult in addressing their needs and wants in the development of their properties?
Aluconsult: Our existing and potential clients benefit from access to first class information, advice, and guidance when they engage us. More so, all property owners will have their properties done the way they like it, while architects will also have the opportunity to tap into our knowledge in order for them to satisfy their customer needs.
zwnews24: What can you look back at and say that so far, this has been the major achievements of Aluconsult and what do you believe has greatly contributed towards such achievements?
Aluconsult: In the short space of time that we have existed, we have helped many people and businesses to realize their dream and achieve their targets. We have helped individuals and corporates to achieve the same goal of building their homes and businesses with the shiny metal called aluminum.
zwnews24: In a world where most people, especially the youth are failing to start and run their own enterprises because of lack of capital, how have you managed to launch and operate the Aluconsult initiative?
Aluconsult: Creativity is what keeps us afloat. If one waits until they have enough capital, they may never start. And so, as for us, we work with what we have, growing slowly, until such a time when we become the biggest players in this field.
zwnews24: It is a fact that the current economic situation in Zimbabwe is challenging. What is it that has helped you as a business to start or even continue operating under such an environment?
Aluconsult: We believe that when there are economic challenges, it also simply means there are economic opportunities as well, that is if you choose to have a positive mindset in a tough environment. We always look for the opportunities and then fill the gaps. This is what is keeping us in the game.
zwnews24: What are and what has been some of the operational challenges that you have encountered so far in the pursuit of the AluConsult vision?
Aluconsult: Capital is the major challenge as you have already mentioned in questions above. More so, standardizing things in an environment where people were getting used to accepting sub-standard things has been a challenge as well, but we are happy that we are being understood and accepted as we change people’s view and appreciation of professional aluminum application in their homes and businesses.
zwnews24: What advice can you give to unemployed youths and many other job seekers concerning entrepreneurship as a way of creating employment for themselves and others?
Aluconsult: The law of sowing and reaping is one of the many universal laws there is. It is the law of cause and effect. Whatever you sow and plant in the garden will produce a crop. For every cause, there is a corresponding effect. Let everyone who is unemployed find a seed and plant.
zwnews24: What are the current challenges happening in your industry or country which are affecting the viability of your business and what are the strategies that you are putting in place for you to achieve your goals?
Aluconsult: Legislation that regulates operations of players in the aluminum industry in Zimbabwe is almost non-existent. There are no standards that are clearly spelt out. This affects the quality of work and products being churned out every day. Because of these problems, Aluconsult was born and we are addressing them as we speak. We are in the process of forming a national association for all aluminum fabricators, and lobbying SAZ, for the creation of standards.
zwnews24: Where do you see Aluconsult in the future and what legacy do you want it to leave on earth?
Aluconsult: We aspire to deliver high quality products and professional services to our partners in our area of specialization. We plan and look forward to become the leading aluminum consultancy and technical services provider in the built environment within our boarders and beyond. We are destined to be the best and biggest in our field.
zwnews24: How do clients and other stakeholders engage your business? How do they get in touch with you?
Phone: +263 77 563 5990
#. The questions in this interview are adapted from the book, The SME HANDBOOK written by Brian Kazungu.
An Analysis On How Zimbabwe Can Harness Local Capital To Its Own Advantage
The Zimbabwean government’s adoption of the Open For Business mantra in its approach towards unlocking investment is a good public relations act which must be accompanied by an enabling policy framework that not only attracts foreign investment but one which also respects local capital and thus stimulating local savings and investment.
Zimbabweans on their own can play a critical role in unlocking the country’s economic Rubik’s cube since IMF Loans and World Bank Grants or any such foreign lines of credit will achieve very little in the absence of local goodwill.
During these economic difficulties that the country is going through, it is important to consider that hardworking, focused and resilient Zimbabweans have the capacity to bring back their economy into full throttle and high productivity.
However, this can be possible when there is efficient allocation of local capital and when incentives for participation in building the economy are right since after all, capital goes where it thrives. .
Over the years, in my formal and informal interactions with people across the board, I have conversed with friends who have felt safer investing their money elsewhere than in their own homeland Zimbabwe.
As a result, many great local ideas have been exported to other more functional economies as enterprising Zimbabweans, despite their love for their country, they had to make the tough call of taking their intellectual capital where it can yield better returns.
On one occasion, I accompanied a colleague to pitch his business idea in a neighboring country where we were well received in the business sense and this alone made it more appealing for him to establish in that country.
The government must therefore understand that local capital is an essential economic building block and that the entrepreneur and local investor is an ally who must be recognized, accommodated, promoted, protected and be celebrated in order to spur economic development.
Zimbabweans as a collective citizenry, i.e. both those in the diaspora and those at home can make a significant contribution in reviving their economy as long as they understand and believe that their capital is safe and that they themselves are welcome, respected and protected.
Once local capital thrives, Zimbabwe will become a honeypot that attracts even the most skeptical of investors since capital as a resource, it goes where it gets the best incentive and reward since no investor can ignore a good return underpinned by a stable economy.
That having been said, the question that comes to mind is how then can we get local capital to work for us?
The answers to this question are listed below:
- We need to probe how many local investment deals have fell through and why and what we can do to get them on track.
- We need to help the informal sector, the small business owners to scale, give incentive to local lenders to shift to lending for productivity as opposed to consumption. Zimbabwe is bubbling with potential and so is the rest of Africa. The question we should always ask when crafting policy is, ‘why would private capital prefer us?’
- We need to articulate a different policy direction that is inclusively underpinned by broad consultations with Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans must invest locally and also be encouraged to invest long term first before international capital can find real comfort here.
- We need to harness the diaspora dividend.
Implementing the afore-mentioned can bring an end to speculative investing and rent seeking behavior which is destroying the economy.
Local capital understands its own local environment. The fact that over 60% of Zimbabwe’s economy is informal proves that Zimbabweans are prepared and willing to work for themselves and their country. Should these hardworking Zimbabweans be given the requisite support for them to continue being productive, then economic stability would be guaranteed.
Zimbabwe’s diaspora is another important constituency in country’s development matrix. For the last two decades, the diaspora community have proven their importance to Zimbabwe’s economy. If only we can get them to participate in broader economic activities through more pronounced savings and investment.
Locally based Zimbabweans including local institutional investors have often received the short end of the policy stick despite their resilience and willingness to continue building. For instance, how institutional investors like pension funds recovered from the 2003-2008 spell is a miracle. Similarly how they are surviving after February 2019 is also an interesting subject considering the limited investment instruments available on the market.
These institutions are a key cog in stimulating savings and investment for any economy globally.
To put this into perspective, NSSA alone was collecting an average of US$200 million during the multi-currency era, not mentioning other statutory as well as private pension funds.
The above illustrates the potential and capacity for the country to succeed using local capital.
In closing, I will reference my 12 May 2014 chat with my late mentor Joseph Sagwati in which he wrote.
“You dont fly out to woo capital, you sell yourself to investors through an accommodative framework of policies on ease of doing business in a conducive environment where the sanctity of private property and enforceability of rule of law are sacrosanct and indivisible. Once this happens, Zimbabwe will ignite the required glow that attracts investors without wasting taxpayers’ money on empty global junkets with a begging bowl.”
Zimbabweans can build Zimbabwe and once we start, the rest of the world will join us.
Prechard Mhako | Business Development Consultant & Economic Analyst | Email email@example.com
Zimbabwe’S Re-Introduction Of The US$: The Best Test For Any Functional Currency Is A Crisis!
With the COVID-19 pandemic in our midst, our government has yet again made another hurried and fishy pronouncement which has re-enabled the use of the United States dollar which they had banned only 9 (nine) months ago.
The re-introduction of US$ into the economy has mainly been reactionary as the government gets into a panic mode because of various reasons including the fact that the major source of forex which is diaspora remittances will be heavily affected during the lockdowns being imposed by various countries.
Even though it is common knowledge that in any functional economy, policy consistency is the key to success, our government seems to think otherwise as they have been making confusing policy pronouncements over the past two years, driven by corruption and greed.
I am going to outline what the press statement by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe means and the implications that it has on the wider economy as well as to businesses and the general public.
Below are the 4 major sticky points for me:
- THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALLOWED THE USE OF FREE FUNDS FOR LOCAL PAYMENTS
My first question to them is: Can someone walk into the bank and withdraw USD from their Nostro Account? Personally, I don’t think that the government will allow people to withdraw USD because they know people will clean up their Nostro accounts. However, this would have been the major boost of confidence for people to trust that the policy above is genuine. Another question which they need to address is: Will they be allowing cash purchases or its just free funds? If the measure is only for Nostro, it makes the whole process another heist of the Nostro accounts.
By allowing the use of USD as a currency, there will be a lot of implications for the economy. Firstly, the economy is going to slowly transition from being a cashless economy to being a cash (USD) economy as long as this policy is in place and by end of the year, the economy would have fully re-dollarised. The thorn in the flesh for the government when the economy becomes a cash economy is that a cash economy is difficult to monitor and to earn revenue from compared to a cashless economy. Such a development will lead to the shrinking of government revenue because there is a potential for a lot of unrecorded/unaccounted transactions in the economy as people and businesses try to evade tax.
This, therefore, means that at one point the government is going to revert back to banning the USD and letting the already dead RTGS become the main currency or the unlikely option of making the USD the sole functional currency again.
Given the lack of trust that people and businesses have on our government, customer deposits into banks will be very low and this will mean that the government has a few USDs to play around with. Most businesses will either store value in hard cash or offshore accounts. Also bear in mind that the amount of free funds currently in banks is a very small fraction of the total cash (USD) in circulation on the parallel market
The solution to this huge problem is customer confidence which is currently almost nonexistent. Unfortunately, the solution to the customer confidence problem is political will and good governance of which our political masters have for a long time dismally failed to show forth.
- GOVERNMENT HAS SUSPENDED THE “MANAGED FLOATING EXCHANGE RATE” AND FIXED THE EXCHANGE RATE AT 1:25
In my previous article on this platform, I contested that there is nothing such as a “managed floating exchange rate”. I predicted that the black market will continue to thrive and this has been the case. The government had to give in and remove such a policy because it showed a lack of understanding of economic fundamentals.
Now that the government has explicitly fixed the exchange rate between the USD and the RTGS while allowing the use of the USD, it marks the beginning of the death of the RTGS. We are going to see businesses demanding USD and the black market thriving until the USD becomes the official currency again.
Fixing the USD to RTGS rate will also see those in higher powers who can get USD at interbank rates benefiting heavily and feeding the black market with forex at a huge premium.
The solution to this problem is the same as that of Point 1 (One) above, which is customer confidence.
- REDUCING OF STATUTORY RESERVE RATION FROM 5% TO 4.5%.
The RBZ has also reduced the amount of deposits banks are supposed to keep as reserves in order to increase the lending capacity of banks to corporates. This would have been a noble idea in a transparent functional economy. It is a public secret that the majority of businesses with access to such facilities from banks are those owned by or linked to corrupt politicians. This then provides another opportunity for looters to loot through loans.
As such, a proper framework and a robust vetting system should thus be put in place in order to enable banks to thoroughly review businesses that they want to lend money to and then the priority should be given to key economic drivers without favour.
- THE ISSUANCE OF OPEN MARKET OPERATIONS (OMO) CORPORATE BILLS.
These bills have been used to steal from companies quite a number of times and I hope companies are now wiser. Currently, no wise company will buy bills from the government given the current world economic status.
After the COVID-19, most economies including first world counties are going to require bailouts and because of that, it is important to understand that a bailout can only succeed with a strong currency and we all know that the RTGS is not a currency at all.
That is the reason why the government has made this panicky policy which is half-backed and rather too late.
If our nation is hit by this virus very hard like what’s happing in Europe and recently in the United States of America, our economy will collapse and need resuscitation.
Unfortunately, the RTGS will not be able to do that job since it is not bankable anywhere in the world and this means that we will need a stronger currency like the USD, which is the reason why there has been this sudden shift in policy by our government.
In conclusion, our economy is like an ailing human body whose organs are failing one by one until the body shuts down. We are nearing the shutdown and as such, immediate genuine attention is required to save the little that’s left to talk about in our economy.
By Gilbert Kamusasa
Tony Elumelu Foundation Alumni
Young African Leaders Initiative Alumni
SEED STARS Alumni
Corona Virus, A Food Security Threat To Africa – Dr. Brylyne Chitsunge, Pan African Parliament Food Security Ambassador.
Dr. Brylyne Chitsunge, the Pan African Parliament Ambassador for Food Security in Africa said that the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a serious food security threat to this continent where some countries are surviving on food aid from donors across the world.
She highlighted that the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic which has drastically affected stock markets and international trade has also unfortunately brought along some logistical challenges with it which in turn affect the movement of food aid to countries that need it the most.
The Food Ambassador attributed the logistical challenges to some lockdowns and travel bans that are happening in some seriously affected countries like Italy whose facilities are critical for the movement of goods to other parts of the world, especially to Africa.
Dr. Chitsunge described the crisis as a multi-faceted tragedy that calls for informed cooperation among all stakeholders because of its far-reaching consequences in the various aspects of people’s day to day life especially when it comes to access to critical life-saving resources.
Concerning the on-going food crisis in some African countries, she said that there is a need to urge farmers to diversify their crops given the persistent drought conditions in some parts of the continent which are making productivity for crops such as maize to be very difficult.
She added that Africa has also been affected by pests and diseases affecting crops and animals, a development that can be attributed to changes in weather and poor grazing land management.
In order to reduce and avoid food shortages in the future, she called for the adoption of sustainable land management and agricultural systems which safeguard livelihoods and enhance crop resilience in response to the impact of climate change.
Dr. Chitsunge who is also a farmer herself is partnering with schools and universities to promote a farming culture and has also opened her Elpasso Farm in South Africa to decision-makers, journalists and students in order to give them an on-site educational farming experience.
The Ambassador who is also a Strategic Advisor to decision-makers in several governments warned that there is a potential risk of promoting clandestine channels for its trade if legalisation and commercialisation of cannabis are not well regulated. She, however, showed excitement on the awakening that is happening in SADC concerning the legalization of marijuana citing that so far, Zambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho have all legalised cannabis, with Malawi having recently legalised the growing, selling and exporting of cannabis for research and medicinal purposes.
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