Dr Masimba Mavaza
Davos 2023 has opened other avenues for Zimbabwe to pursue its growth trajectory.
A delegation from Zimbabwe led by Foreign Affairs Minister Frederick Shava attended the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland and gave an account of strategies the country had come up with to boost the economy.
These include among other things, investing in women and young people, promoting value addition of minerals as opposed to exporting raw materials and encouraging the use of renewable energy to reduce gas emissions.
It was noted at Davos that African countries including Zimbabwe had been negatively affected by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and had also suffered from effects of climate change.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube emphasised that Zimbabwe had come up with several initiatives of improving the economy including the ban on exports of raw lithium.
The importance of women and young people in developing nation and contributing towards the economy was also emphasised.
Industry and Commerce Minister Sekai Nzenza who was part of the delegation said there was need to build capacity of women and young people so they venture into income generating projects.
She urged Zimbabweans to become self-reliant, manufacture and market local products at competitive prices.
Speaking on the Reigniting Growth in Africa panel at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023, economist and chairwoman of the board of the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility, Dr Vera Songwe said processing and value addition of locally produced goods would increase profits for business people in Africa.
Value addition, Dr Songwe said would create jobs and increase Africa’s participation on the international market.
This is in line with Zimbabwean Government which is promoting value addition of raw materials for instance through banning export of raw lithium.
Kenyan former central bank governor, Patrick Njoroge proposed a ban on the export of certain raw materials to support the local manufacturing of essential goods.
This, he said, would circumvent global supply chain bottlenecks.
He also urged African governments to live within their means as borrowing costs were high and debt levels rising.
The debt question was raised in several discussions around Africa’s growth trajectory.
Speaking during the Realising Africa’s Century session, UNAIDS chief Winnie Byanyima said some “African countries are paying two times more in debt repayments than their total budget for education, and four times more in debt repayments than their total budgets for health.”
She suggested that new solutions need to be found for this old problem.”
“Debt is choking many countries, and it is urgent that it is resolved through a system that is better than the current framework. They need a multilateral, legal framework so that they can negotiate their loans and access the fiscal space they need to grow.”
This crippling debt speaks to a global system that is tainted by inequality.
A number of suggestions to boost economies were made at Davos and they buttressed what Zimbabwe has already been doing.
Zimbabwe had been attacked on some circles for banning the export of raw materials but this idea of promoting value addition was endorsed at the Davos 2023 meeting.
Davos 2023 like many forums also focused on climate change, mitigation and adaptation.
Delegates encouraged the use of renewable energy sources as such as solar as a way of reducing gas emissions. However, delegates also noted that there was need for developed nations to be patient with Africa as the continent had to continue using fossil fuels.
Zimbabwe has its own people championing the use of renewable energy and waste management.
Geo Pomona Waste Management is generating energy from garbage. The chief executive Delish Nguwaya was last year honoured by the Zimbabwe Integrated Traders Association (ZITA) with a special Innovative Business Award in recognition of his leading role in the Pomona Waste Management project.)
Nguwaya said the illustrious, game-changing emergence of the new waste management would change the face of public service delivery in the country.
“The project is an outgrowth of the Government’s openness to innovations.
“This award is not mine as an individual, but it is a special token present through me in respect to a broader agenda which Geo Pomona is promoting in line with the visionary cause of the Second Republic in creating an upper-middle class income economy by 2030,” he said.
Nguwaya reinforced the fact that African countries need to become more climate resilient by embracing an energy mix that includes dump and solar, wind and geothermal.
With that there is still much to be hopeful about when thinking about the future of Zimbabwe.
Davos will provide the young, ambitious and tech-savvy population, its fast-growing middle class, large and diverse market for goods and services, and the plus side of rapid urbanisation.
While the whole world groans under the economic down turn Zimbabweans have proved to be resilient. They are hungry for growth. Everybody wants a better life, and the spirit of people should never be underestimated.