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News: Integrating Zim, Africa economies key to achieving Vision 2030

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The objective of Vision 2030, to create an upper middle class economy by 2030 cannot be attained if Zimbabwe does not diversify and integrate its economy with the rest of Africa and in line with African Union (AU) economic development programmes.

The continent is reshaping itself and emerging as a united, vibrant, modern, resilient and influential global player.
Zimbabwe should not act as a spectator from the rest of the continent. Instead, we should take advantage of AU policies for continental economic and social integration.

AU Agenda 2063
Agenda 2063, themed “The Africa We Want”, provides a clear vision on where Africa is going.

It is anchored on various aspirations which include creating a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
African countries have already started to move towards Agenda 2063 through diversification of economies.

The nationals are moving away from reliance on export of low value primary resources, prone to price volatility on global markets, into setting up commodity-driven industries which will create millions of jobs for its youthful 1,3 billion population.

Zimbabwe should not be left behind and must put in place measures to ensure that its economy diversifies from over reliance on mining and agriculture.

The surge in services sectors in areas such as banking, finance, insurance, telecoms, tourism, health, education, agriculture and innovative technology (e-commerce, fin-techs, business process outsourcing (BPO) and data), marks a new growth frontier and is expected to buoy the diversification of African economies.

BPO, for example, is a service industry on a growth path in Africa.
Globally, it is estimated to be worth around $6 trillion and involves subcontracting various business related operations to third party vendors in areas such as call center support, product sales, debt collection, social media analytics, credit vetting and so on.

The sprouting of service industries is a trend that will accelerate growth and rapidly change the face of African economies in a short span.
Nigeria, for example, has for decades relied on extraction and export of crude oil accounting close to 90 percent of its national revenues.

The price volatility of oil witnessed a few years ago had a serious knock-on the Nigerian economy, ditching it into an economic stagnation pond between 2015 and2017.

Nigeria’s economy went into recession in 2016, contracting -1,6 percent.

Challenge for Zimbabwe
The challenge for Zimbabwe, as it strives to create an upper middle income economy by year 2030, is to ensure that it takes full advantage of the opportunities offered by African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and other continental economic development programmes such as the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

Africa, given its diversity, strategic geographical position and abundant natural resources, high on demand globally, is an attractive investment destination for global capital.

African Development Bank (AfDB) projects a 4 percent economic growth rate for Africa in 2020, surpassing 3,3 percent world growth focus.
This growth is being driven mainly through infrastructure development, commodity based industrialisation and diversification of economies, with emphasis on manufacturing and service industries.

Zimbabwe with its vast arable land, supported by irrigation and advanced agricultural technologies, has the potential to be the leader in Africa’s food production.

The country has the potential to move to the top of the African food chain through agro-industrialisation which entails adding value to all what it produces.

Zimbabwean tomato farmers should start producing canned juices and tomato puree, dairy farmers should increase yoghurt production while citrus farmers concentrate on juices and so on.
Diversification of the Zimbabwean economy and increased productivity will contribute to the continental objectives enshrined under Agenda 2063.

African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in Niamey, Niger, is a milestone set to break trade barriers deliberately imposed on African states via colonialism, inhibiting trade, cooperation and development amongst African countries.

With the signing of AfCFTA, Africa is set to become the world’s biggest economic trading bloc integrating 54 countries with 1,3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3,4 trillion.
AfCFTA, which becomes operational in July 2020, with its secretariat hosted in Accra, Ghana, is expected to boost intra African trade which Afreximbank estimates at a paltry 11 percent of continental total trade or US$170 billion in 2017.

Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), if implemented by all African countries, will open African skies and strengthen AfCFTA, whose success depends on free and cheaper movement of people, goods and services across Africa.

Zimbabwe should brace itself for open African skies if it is to remain a key player in Africa.

Infrastructure is a key enabler for economic development. Infrastructure deficit, in areas of energy, power, telecoms, technology, aviation, road and rail, to name a few, is a major constraint to economic development in Africa.

Afreximbank estimates Africa’s infrastructure financing gap at US$100 billion annually.

This gap offers African entrepreneurs with vast business opportunities to invest in infrastructure.

China remains the biggest partner in Africa’s infrastructure development through bilateral agreements, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and other programmes.

China, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac), held in Beijing in 2018, pledged US$60 billion towards Africa’s infrastructure projects and development assistance through institutions such as; Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM), China Development Bank and China-Africa Development Fund.

As Zimbabwe works towards Vision 2030, infrastructure development is key especially in energy, transport, water and sanitation, health and telecoms.

We cannot achieve Vision 2030 with antiquated and dilapidated infrastructure.

Zimbabweans, we should not fall over backwards and forget that the tide for rebuilding the economy cannot rise if we do not diversify the economy and take full advantage of AU’s economic development programs.
We need to fully integrate the economy with the rest of African countries under AfCFTA.

Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and development is not a mission impossible, it is a possible mission.

By Allen Choruma
Source: sundaymail.co.zw


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