Zimbabwe Economic News: NRZ Revamp, Lafarge's $250M New PLant, Econet's New Call Centre, Blue Ribbon Kicks Off Production Again

The following Zimbabwean economic news roundup has been compiled by ZDDT's correspondent Chrispen Tabvura.

NRZ system to be revamped (ZimMail, Thursday June 19):

The government will this year embark on a massive rehabilitation of the national rail network and up to 400 kilometres of railroad will be overhauled while new locomotives and state-of-the-art signalling systems will be procured, Vice President Joice Mujuru said yesterday.

She said the revamping of the national railway system was necessary for the provision of cheaper transport alternative for traders that would result in reduced end user prices for products while at the same time reducing haulage traffic on the country’s roads.

Lafarge to invest $250 mln in new plant (Herald, Tuesday June 17):

Lafarge Cement says it may invest up to $250 mln towards setting up a new cement manufacturing plant. However, for now, the company is still looking for feasible limestone deposits.

Chief executive Amal Tantawi said plans to set up a new plant were ongoing.

“We have so far identified one limestone deposit to help feed the plant and the company continues to look for more deposits. Feasibility studies are being
conducted on the long-term projects and we hope this will see our business growing in the future,” said Tantawi.

A team of technical experts is expected in the country in September this year as the company is focusing on expanding its capacity. However, efforts are being made to choose the right location for the plant.

Econet to launch a new call centre (Herald, Friday June 13):

Econet Wireless is implementing a highly  advanced call centre system which will enable its contact centre operators to monitor feedback and conversations on both social network and cellular communications platforms.

The new platform will enable Econet call centre operators to respond to social media, voice telephony, fax and instant messaging service queries and complaints. It is being implemented in partnership with Jasco, an international telecommunications support company.

Delta Beverages expands into drinking yoghurt (Herald, Friday June 13):

Delta will this week launch a new yoghurt drink. The new drink consolidates Delta’s continued interest in expanding its non-alcoholic portfolio and claiming an increasing share under the growing health and nutrition category.

According to Delta, the new yoghurt drink will fall under the Super Sip brand which the company launched in a highly publicised campaign in October last year. The company indicated that the product will be in 3 flavours – Banana and Strawberry, Mango and Pineapple. Additional flavours would be launched at a later stage.

Metalbox plans to develop plastic packaging division (Herald, Wednesday June 11):

Local metal packaging company, Carnaud Metalbox Pvt is working towards developing its plastic packaging division as part of its long term plan to reinforce its position in the packaging industry, managing director John Van Gend said.

Acquired by Nampak Private Limited South Africa in 2002, Carnaud Metalbox is the sole supplier of metal cans, crowns and aerosols in Zimbabwe and a leading manufacturer of plastic bottles. The company has so far injected $8 mln towards growing the plastics division through acquiring new plastic packaging manufacturing lines.

Blue Ribbon resumes operations (Herald, Wednesday June 11):

Blue Ribbon Foods resumed operations on the maize line last week after securing a supply agreement for raw materials with a Mutare-based company. A source familiar with the development said operations on the maize line started last week pending the finalisation of the equity sale to Bakhresa group and the popular brands Ngwerewere and Chibataura will be back on the shelves this month.

The Mutare company had also availed $200 000 to rehabilitate machinery and equipment at the old plant. Blue Ribbon Industries has 5 divisions which included BRI Logistics, Blue Ribbon Foods, JA Mitchells and Nutresco Foods.