Zimbabwe’s steel and iron imports in 2021 rose to nearly US$410 million from US$306 million a year earlier, according to the latest figures from the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (Zimstat).
The rise has been attributed to a number of public and private infrastructure programmes currently underway across the country.
These include the expansions of Hwange Power Station and the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport and several dams that are at different levels of construction.
Moreover, there has also been huge consumption of steel by various industries including mining and construction. An executive with a leading construction firm was quoted as saying:
There are a lot of ongoing infrastructure projects, especially those being funded by the Government and require a lot of steel and iron.
This is pushing demand for steel up, but unfortunately, almost everything is imported.
Zimbabwe used to be a regional steel giant for years until the turn of the millennium, but the closure of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) has turned the country into a net importer.
Ziscosteel, a parastatal, closed down in 2008 due to a number of reasons, among them corruption, mismanagement and ageing equipment.
Last Tuesday, Cabinet approved the partnership between Ziscosteel and Kuvimba Mining House, for the resuscitation of iron mining and steel processing.
Kuvimba Mining House is 65 per cent owned by various State agencies while the remainder is owned by management.
The company, which has interests in gold, platinum, chrome and nickel, has proposed to invest as much as US$1.3 billion into Ziscosteel over three years and targets annual steel output of one million tonnes.