ZIMSEC O Level Business Studies Notes: The Three Sectors of the Economy

  • There are three levels of economic activity:
  • Primary Level
  • Secondary Level
  • Tertiary Level


  • All those businesses which are related to extraction of raw material from the earth such as mining, fishing, farming, and logging
  • Such activities are also known as Primary Sector businesses.
  • There is very little addition of value.
  • The Primary Sector makes up the largest part of Zimbabwe’s economy.
  • Zimbabwe’s economy is based on Agriculture which is part of the primary sector.
  • The primary sector provides essential raw materials to other sectors of the economy
  • For example fuel for Transport and Raw materials for manufacturing.
  • It provides food that is used to feed the personnel in each sector.
  • It also makes its own contribution to the Gross Domestic Product thus leading to an increase in the standards of living.
  • Some raw materials are exported to other countries thus earning essential foreign currency for Zimbabwe.


Pipeline under construction. Image credit MediaWiki

Pipeline under construction. Image credit MediaWiki

  • All businesses which manufacture and process the raw materials which can be used by the end consumers are known as Secondary Sector businesses.
  • These include building, construction, compute assembly, shoe factories, textile factories etc.
  • Examples of businesses in this industry include Astra Paints, Lobels Bread etc
  • The primary sector adds value to processed raw materials
  • It makes them usable by the end consumers or by other industries, for example, copper wires are used in manufacturing electronic and electrical equipment.
  • Finished goods can be exported to other countries thus earning foreign currency.
  • The Secondary industry increases Zimbabwe’s GDP and leads to an increase in the standards of living.
  • Exporting processed goods instead o raw materials minimises the possibility of imbalances in trade and thus lead to the development of Zimbabwe.


  • businesses which provide services and assist both the primary and secondary sector businesses can be classified as Tertiary sector businesses.
  • These include transportation, insurance, hospitals, educational institutes, showrooms etc
  • Examples include the University of Zimbabwe, Midlands State University etc.
  • The tertiary industry provides essential services to the other sectors thus leading to development.
  • Without Transport for examples goods would not be transported from the source to destination markets.
  • Warehouses provide storage and other services to the other sectors of the economy.
  • Advertising enables sellers to communicate with buyers.
  • Banking provides essential financial services.
  • Insurance provides essential functions such as indemnifying customers and businesses against incidental losses.
  • Communication services enable various entities within the economy to communicate with one another. Studies have shown a correlation between broadband (part of communication) usage and the development of a country (GDP).
  • Other services such as Hotels also play a crucial service by bringing in foreign currency into the country through for example tourism.

To access more topics go to the O Level Business Studies Notes Page.