Minister Bimba. Photo: The Herald
By Funny Hudzerema, The Herald
Government and an Indian firm which makes Pepsi products yesterday held a ground-breaking ceremony for a $30 million bottling plant in Harare, which will create nearly 5 000 jobs by 2018.
Varun Beverages Limited will also venture into the agro-industry, solar energy and healthcare to increase its investment to almost $250 million in the next few years.
Speaking during the ground- breaking ceremony in Willowvale, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha said the investment would lure other Indian investors.
The investment is part of efforts to turnaround the economy by encouraging investors to come. Countless investors from Europe and Asia have been expressing interest to bring their money here.
Zimbabwe and China signed nine landmark investment deals in August last year that will see the emerging global giant providing financial support for the much-needed economic enablers in critical sectors that include energy, roads, national railway network, telecommunications, agriculture and tourism as part of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.
Some of the Chinese mega projects are already under way, with the financial closure for the $1,1 billion funding of the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station expected early next month.
Russian investors are working on a $3 billion platinum mining venture in Darwendale that is expected to change the face of mining.
Earlier this year, Government signed more mega investment deals in energy, cement manufacturing and coal mining with Nigerian billionaire Mr Aliko Dangote.
More investment delegates have been to Zimbabwe from countries such as Germany, Britain, Finance and the United States.
Minister Bimha said at the ground breaking ceremony that apart from the bottling plant, Varun Beverages Limited, which is in a joint venture with a local company Glaciem (Pvt) Ltd, would be a major player in the agro-industry sector.
The joint venture has resulted in the formation of Varun Beverages (Zimbabwe) Pvt Ltd, which is spearheading the estbalishment of the bottling plant.
“I am informed that the project will directly generate employment for more than 600 people and indirectly employ a further 5 000,” said Minister Bimha.
“The state-of-the-art bottling plant will manufacture Pepsi co products that is Pepsi, Mirinda, 7UP, Mountain Dew and Aquaclear water on this site and create 600 jobs directly.”
“Downstream linkages will create positive spin-offs in source industries for raw materials like sugar, water, carbon dioxide chemicals, consumables, glass bottles, plastic shells and packaging material since these will be sourced locally in support of the local chemicals.”
Minister Bimha said women would also benefit from the bottling plant as they would form the Women Entrepreneurship where they would earn between $5 and $7 per day selling the Pepsi products.
During President Mugabe’s visit to India for the India-Africa Summit at the end of last month, he met and was briefed on the project by the chairman of Varun Beverages Limited Mr Ravi Jaipuria.
“I am also informed that after the successful implementation of this project, the group intends to be a major player in the agro-industry sector by setting up potato processing and tomato paste manufacturing units, operations which will go a long way in realising our value addition and agro-processing objectives,” said Minister Bimha.
The construction of the bottling plant is expected to commence in the next 11 months and is expected to be completed in 2018.
Varun Beverages is an international firm with factories in a number of countries such as Zambia and Brazil.
Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony, Varun Beverages Africa chief executive Mr Krishnan Shankar said the group had already complied with laws required to set up a business in Zimbabwe.
“We have acquired all the requirements which are needed to start business in the country which include indigenous licences and we are expecting to finish by 2018,” he said.
Mr Shankar said the group would also construct a tomato and potato processing factory during the same period since the market is readily available in India and the local market which is growing with companies like Kentucky Fried Chicken joining in.
Zimbabwean ambassador to India Mr Maxwell Ranga said the investment will strengthen the relationship between Zimbabwe and India.