Mnangagwa Dangerously Wicknells Into Korea
2 June 2024
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Emmerson Mnangagwa: Economy Lessons from South Korea at the Korea-Africa Summit

By Business Reporter | ZimEye | As Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa attends the inaugural Korea-Africa Summit, there is a unique opportunity to learn from South Korea’s remarkable economic transformation. South Korea, once a war-torn nation, has become an economic powerhouse known for its technological innovation and robust industrial base. In contrast, Zimbabwe struggles with basic production, rampant corruption, and a dependence on imports. To steer Zimbabwe towards sustainable growth, several lessons can be gleaned from South Korea’s experience.

1. Prioritizing Industrialization and Technological Innovation:**
South Korea’s success is largely attributed to its focus on industrialization and technological advancement. The country invested heavily in key industries such as electronics, automotive, and shipbuilding. For Zimbabwe, it is crucial to develop a clear industrial policy that encourages the growth of local industries and reduces dependency on imports. Initiatives could include:
– Incentivizing local production of essential goods and fostering partnerships with international tech firms to transfer knowledge and expertise.

2. Addressing Corruption and Enhancing Governance:**
A significant challenge for Zimbabwe has been corruption, exemplified by figures like Wicknell Chivayo who have misappropriated state funds. South Korea’s crackdown on corruption, especially in the 1990s, played a critical role in creating a more transparent and accountable governance structure. Mnangagwa should implement stringent anti-corruption measures, including:
– Establishing an independent anti-corruption commission with prosecutorial powers.
– Ensuring transparency in government contracts and procurement processes.
– Promoting a culture of accountability by holding officials and business figures accountable for their actions.

*3. Investing in Human Capital:*
South Korea’s investment in education and skills development has been a cornerstone of its economic growth. By prioritizing education, particularly in science and technology, the country created a skilled workforce capable of driving innovation. Zimbabwe should:
– Increase funding for education, focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines.
– Develop vocational training programs aligned with industry needs to bridge the skills gap.
– Collaborate with South Korean educational institutions to create exchange programs and joint research initiatives.

4. Building a Strong Export-Oriented Economy:**
South Korea’s economic strategy involved promoting exports through quality improvement and competitive pricing. Zimbabwe can adopt a similar approach by:
– Identifying and developing competitive advantages in agriculture, mining, and manufacturing.
– Supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access international markets.
– Establishing export incentives and reducing barriers to trade.

5. Enhancing Infrastructure Development:**
Modern and efficient infrastructure is crucial for economic development. South Korea’s investments in infrastructure facilitated its industrial growth. Zimbabwe needs to prioritize:
– Upgrading transportation networks, including roads, railways, and ports, to facilitate trade.
– Ensuring reliable energy supply by investing in renewable energy projects and improving the efficiency of existing power plants.
– Developing digital infrastructure to support the growth of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

6. Promoting Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs):**
South Korea’s economic model leveraged PPPs to drive development. Mnangagwa should encourage collaborations between the government and private sector to finance and implement major projects. This can be achieved by:
– Creating a conducive legal and regulatory framework for PPPs.
– Identifying key sectors for PPP investments, such as infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
– Facilitating dialogue between the government, private sector, and international investors to build trust and cooperation.

The Korea-Africa Summit presents a valuable opportunity for Zimbabwe to learn from South Korea’s economic success. By focusing on industrialization, combating corruption, investing in human capital, promoting exports, enhancing infrastructure, and fostering public-private partnerships, Zimbabwe can embark on a path towards sustainable economic growth. It is imperative for President Mnangagwa to take decisive actions, inspired by South Korea’s experience, to transform Zimbabwe’s economy and improve the lives of its citizens.