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The Zimbabwe Investment Conference: Rethinking the imperatives &
meaning of a successful Zimbabwean economy
Prime Minister Arthur G.O. Mutambara
April 03, 2013
There is need
to rethink the imperatives & meaning of a successful Zimbabwean
economy. It is critical to understanding the nature of Zimbabwe’s
investment opportunities. Zimbabwe’s investment value proposition
is more than a resource boom. The key growth driver, about 50% of
GDP, is now coming from consumer facing industries (retail, ICT,
banking, services). Mining and agriculture are important but over-rated.
Even in these traditional sectors emphasis is on the potential impact
of secondary industries driven by processing and value addition.
Zimbabwe must move up the global value chains.
There is also
a potential demographic dividend, i.e., converting population into
economic leverage through skilled human capital. There are many
well trained and competent people in Zimbabwe, and in the Diaspora.
The categorical imperatives are talent, ICT, advanced science &
technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation. While infrastructure
(water, energy, transportation, ICT, public works) is a key enabler
of the entire economy, it also presents major opportunities to the
innovative and risk taking investor. The Zimbabwean Diaspora must
learn from other African countries (Ghana, Ethiopia, and Senegal),
India, China and Israel that they can be effective sources of remittances;
trade, tourism and investment advocacy; knowledge, ideas and frameworks
about statecraft and economic strategies. However there should be
no taxation without representation! We as the government of Zimbabwe
must adequately address the concerns of the diaspora such as voting
rights, multiple citizenship, and travel & national documents.
MTP has identified FDI as a critical enabler for economic growth,
with SA as a unique source of FDI with a hook into the rest of the
BRICS economies. We must create access to financial and technical
partnerships in SA. We seek to expose local firms interested in
joint ventures with South
while availing opportunities for joint venturing into export and
import markets in South Africa. We desire to strengthen banking
and broader financial relationships with South Africa. We seek to
attract regional & international banks keen to facilitate trade
and investment in Zimbabwe.
SA is Zimbabwe's
main trading partner, accounting for more than 60% of Zimbabwe's
international trade volumes. However, there is need to balance imports
vs. exports. Zimbabwe should not be a supermarket of SA products.
To avoid this; we seek SA investment in Zimbabwean productive industries,
in particular manufacturing, and beneficiation. We also seek to
export more value added products to SA.
all these investment and trade activities SA and its Corporates
must not be driven by a charity disposition. We seek a win-win framework,
where the two sister economies benefit. In any case, under globalization
regional & continental integration presents the only viable
basis for survival. African countries will neither be viable nor
vibrant as individual entities. They will thrive as SADC, COMESA,
EAC, Magreb or the AU. Scale, size of market, critical mass, and
the pulling together of resources are now core elements of economic
survival. The same philosophy applies to corporates. You will not
succeed as a national company. You must have a regional, continental
and global footprint. African success stories which have embraced
and demonstrated this new paradigm include; Econet, SAB Miller,
SBSA, ABSA, Africa Sun, MTN and ABC.
globalization demands regional and continental competitiveness rooted
in regional and continental attractiveness. SA will not flourish
with a dysfunctional Zimbabwe. SA will not thrive with an economically
crippled Malawi. SADC countries will swim or sink together. SA will
only be a meaningful member of the BRICS if it is there representing
SADC and Africa. SA's metrics, of a GDP of US$408 billion and a
population of 51 million people, do NOT qualify it as a legitimate
member of the BRICS; when you compare with Brazil (US$2 493bn, 195mn),
Russia (US$1 850bn, 143mn), India (US$1 676bn, 1 206mn), and China
(US$7 298bn, 1 348mn). The SA numbers are chicken change in comparison
with each one of the other BRICS. The collective GDPs and populations
of SADC, COMESA and the AU will allow SA to have more leverage and
clout in the BRICS, thus benefiting SA, the regional bodies and
the entire African continent. This should be the new strategic approach.
Yes there are
problems and challenges in Zimbabwe (poor infrastructure, low access
to financial services, food security matters, governance, low productivity,
low beneficiation), but these must be seen as potential opportunities
by discerning and creative entrepreneurs, investors and traders.
We need possibility thinking as a new framework. Business players
must be possibility thinkers who solve human needs and challenges
by viewing them as business opportunities. Every challenge presents
an opportunity. We just need to be innovative and creative enough
to convert adversity into a business value proposition. Risk aversion
underpinned and driven by incompetent risk modeling and over-pricing
of risk factors must be discouraged.
These are some
of the issues we must discuss and asses as we rethink the imperatives
& meaning of a successful Zimbabwean economy. In doing so we
must be driven by 21st century Pan-Africanism rooted in entrepreneurship,
science & technology, ICTs, and collective economics. Within
this context, no African will be respected or deserve any recognition,
unless and until the entire African continent is prosperous. The
South Africans must understand this. No Zimbabwean will be respected,
or warrant any attention unless and until the Zimbabwean economy
is thriving. The Zimbabwean Diaspora must come to terms with this.
continues, but we shall overcome.
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