By Dr Masimba Mavaza- Davos 2023 has cast open the road for Zimbabwe to get back on its growth trajectory.
The leaders at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2023 in Davos, Switzerland, spent the whole week finding ways to achieve this goal.
Davos 2023 has opened the eyes of our leaders, who can now see that Zimbabwe’s most enormous potential is in its youth and children.
With a strong delegation led by Mhofu yemukono minister of Foreign Affairs, Cde Fredrick Shava, Zimbabwe has been put on the cusp of another long stretch of growth.
Despite a well-documented list of setbacks, it can develop while shielding its populations from socioeconomic shocks.
But what will it take? And what stands in the way?
Minister Mthuli Ncube has suggested enhancing the nation’s finances and economical stretch.
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 & Sustainability Facility, Vera Songwe said that “for Africa, the polycrisis has four faces – conflict, climate, COVID-19 and the cost of living.
African countries must advance on these four fronts to regain and surpass previous development records. To do so, there must be a level of austerity.” Patrick Njoroge, former governor of Kenya’s central bank, said African governments must learn to live within their means because borrowing costs are high and debt levels are rising.
Indeed, the debt question was raised in several discussions around Africa’s growth trajectory.
Speaking during the Realizing Africa’s Century session, UNAIDS Chief Winnie Byanyima said that 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.
It has been spelt out in Davos that crises stemming from the war in Ukraine, poverty, insecurity and climate change have affected Zimbabwe and Africa.
Minister Mthuli emphasized that his top priority is for Zimbabwe to take charge, and to that end, Zimbabwe has made drastic moves to improve its economic stand. This includes banning the export of Lithium and seeding. Seeding refers to assisting farmers with seeds to create social funding.
Zimbabwe has taken the advice of Davos 2023 seriously of taking charge, starting with investing in people.
The ministers who attended the forum were cde Shava cde Mthuli and CHIHERA Sekai Nzenza, who left early for Iran on other pressing business. Nzenza said that women and young people must be encouraged to become start-up entrepreneurs and supported through capacity building. She urged Zimbabweans to become self-reliant by building businesses, creating local markets and selling local products at competitive prices.
Echoing cde Nzenza’s sentiments Dr Songwe, who spoke on Reigniting Growth in Africa panel, said that a lot of the global supply chains start on our continent and can finish on our continent, but only if African countries take steps to transform their raw materials into finished goods on the continent. Songwe said this would create jobs, add value, and deepen Africa’s involvement in global trade.
This comment dove-tailed what Zimbabwe had done by putting a ban on exporting raw materials and particularly Lithium and demanded that investors must only ship finished products.
Similarly, Njoroge, a former central bank governor, suggested a ban on exporting certain raw materials to support the local manufacture of essential goods. This, he said, would circumvent global supply chain bottlenecks. Nonkululeko Nyembezi, an independent, non-executive chairman of the Standard Bank Group, agreed, saying that Africa would be well on its way if governments extracted all of the cobalt, copper, and nickel that the new green economy needs. However, she added that Africa would have to increase emissions in the short term.
The spirit of Davos this year was buttressing what Zimbabwe has started doing. Zimbabwe was criticized for banning the export of raw materials by detractors, but Davos put paid for that action.
Davos 2023, like many forums, focused on climate change, mitigation and adaptation. Delegates pointed to role of solar and other renewable energies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It was said by one delegate that “the world would only slay the climate change dragon through private/public partnership, but the world would have to be patient with Africa in the global pathway to net zero because to get to green, the continent will need fossil fuels.”
However Zimbabwe has its champions in Climate Change. Even though he did not attend the World Economic Forum Delish Nguwaya is one of the Zimbabwean business people who is producing energy from waste. Nguwaya is the Chief Executive Officer of Pomona Dumpsite, turning the dump to electricity. Pomona Project was awarded several recognitions for their effort, and Davos 2023 was the right place. In recognizing the fight against Climate Change the Zimbabwe Integrated Traders Association (ZITA) honoured the businessman Delish Nguwaya with a special Innovative Business Award in recognition of his leading role in the Pomona Waste Management project.
The project had earned Nguwaya enemies and friends. He was vilified, demonized, and criminalized by many in particular. He clashed with Harare City Council as mayor Jacob Mafume and his CCC party worked together with the misguided independent member of Parliament Temba Mliswa.
Despite all the nonsense, Nguwaya was rewarded when Davos 2023 dedicated time to climate change and promoting other means of generating power.
In recognition of the award, Nguwaya said the innovation award is a timely motivation as he dedicated it to the Geo Pomona team.
“The illustrious, game-changing emergence of the new waste management will change the face of public service delivery in the country. The project is an outgrowth of the Government’s openness to innovations,” he said.
“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.”
Nguwaya reinforced the fact that African counties 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. Nguwaya has shown the Zimbabwean people and the world that the earth can still be saved.
Davos will provide the following:
- The young, ambitious, tech-savvy population.
- Its a fast-growing middle class.
- A large and diverse market for goods and services.
- The plus side of rapid urbanization.
While the whole world groans under the economic downturn, we have realized that Zimbabweans are resilient. They are hungry for growth. Everybody wants a better life, and the spirit of people should never be underestimated.
As Davos Clichés to an end, Zimbabwe, under Emmerson MNANGAGWA’s guidance, has taken a leaf from this forum.