Zimbabwe’s largest timber producer, Allied Timbers Zimbabwe (ATZ), is preparing to commission its new $12 million (USD) sawmill at the Cashel Estate, located in the eastern highlands. ATZ seeks to become self-sufficient in terms of its planting, harvesting, and sawmilling, which will in turn will boost the company’s revenue inflow while at the same time reduce ATZ’s reliance on contract milling operations.
ATZ’s Chairman, Mr. Itai Ndudzo, said the investment will add to the $7.0 million worth of equipment the company has been acquiring since 2020 under a vendor financed program with Belarus and $1 million company investment authorized by ATZ’s board.
Ndudzo went onto say that “We brought $7.1 million worth of equipment from Belarus consisting mainly of fire tenders and firefighting equipment because our biggest challenge is fire (suppression).” Adding, “We have also invested more than a million dollars from our own generated resources towards recapitalization and now we are commissioning the $12 sawmilling facility.”
The state-owned commercial enterprise has a 99-year lease agreement with the Forestry Commission, which owns 60 percent of commercial forest lands in Zimbabwe. It was born out of the unbundling of the Forestry Commission in 2003, which was meant to separate regulatory activities from commercial operations. The intention was to enable both institutions to effectively pursue their mandates, with funds from the commercial wing supposed to assist in funding the regulatory functions. So, the commercial wing gave rise to Forestry Company of Zimbabwe, which was later re-branded Allied Timbers while the regulatory activities were reconstituted into the Forestry Commission.
Ndudzo notes that “The trajectory of the business is positive. There is a lot of construction that is ongoing in both domestic and industries and the demand for timber in the economy is huge. Timber has become a (US) dollar commodity and we also have good demand for our products in the region particularly in Zambia and Angola, Botswana and Mozambique, and the northern parts of South Africa as well as Namibia. What we have been working on since 2019 has been to do with our ability to satisfy demand.”
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