Ziscosteel to focus on domestic market: CEO

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ZISCOSTEEL will focus on the domestic market when it resumes operations, the chief executive officer of the Redcliff-based company has said.

The shift in focus has been forced by changes in the global steel industry where China is dumping cheaper product on the market while, elsewhere, the United States is hiking tariffs against imports to protect local companies.

ZISCO, once the largest integrated steel company in sub-Saharan Africa north of the Limpopo, ceased production nearly a decade ago weighed down by, among other things, under-capitalisation, alleged mismanagement and unhelpful political interference.

Government is now looking for investors to help revive the company after the collapse of billion-dollar rescue bid by the India-based Essar group.

In a recent interview, CEO Alois Gowo said, once revived, the company would be inward-looking because “the situation has changed, the global market is now dominated by other players”.

“Annually Zisco produced 900,000 tonnes of steel. At maximum capacity 80-85% was for export. The reason for the huge appetite on the global market was because steel consumption in Zimbabwe is much lower,” he said.

“We have to be cognizant of the fact that steel processes go through cycles and those cycles take years. Worldwide, processes are going down drastically, and we are currently coming out of recession.

“There are opportunities for steel industry in the country. We are targeting the domestic industry. There is room for the steel to be used here.”

The government, which is Zisco’s majority shareholder, is understood to be in negotiations with a potential Chinese investor but progress in the talks remains unclear.

“We need a foreign investor as a country because we are looking at the kind of investment we are not able to raise the money domestically,” said Gowo.

He also indicated that it would take 18-24 months to get Zisco running again after injection of the much-needed new capital.