AfDB Presents Flagship Report on Infrastructure and Growth in Zimbabwe

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A Flagship Report titled, “Infrastructure and Growth in Zimbabwe: An Action Plan for Strengthened Recovery”, produced by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, was recently presented to its staff in Tunis.

Opening the presentation, Vice President Aloysius Ordu described the publication as a success story. “We are celebrating success today,” he emphasized, and advised Bank experts to take ownership of the report. He explained that the report was produced in view of the country’s post-conflict reconstruction and development.

The Bank’s Southern Africa operations department Director, Ebrima Faal, explained that the report is an analytical work aimed at strengthening the Bank’s knowledge of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure sector. The report specifically provides an Action Plan for the country’s re-engagement with the international community in the event that it would clear its debt arrears in 2011-2012. It also provides a platform for the elaboration of AfDB’s future operations in the country, with the government’s active support.

The presentation was followed by panel discussions involving the Bank’s Resident Representative in Zimbabwe, Mahamudu Bawumia, managers and directors. While commending the team which drafted the report, the discussants focused on how Zimbabwe’s government was taking ownership of the report; the high expectations from the Bank on the ground; the country’s debt arrears situation and  the rationale for the Bank’s continued engagement in Zimbabwe, considered to be a fragile environment. They also dwelt on critical knowledge and capacity building roles; the need to enhance rule of law and provide a conducive regulatory framework to enable the country attract investment especially in the energy sector; and the role that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora could play in resource mobilization.

The meeting was attended by 70 AfDB operational managers and experts, in particular, field office staff and those working in post-conflict countries, to share knowledge and experience on the report’s action plan, its benefits, financing requirements, government actions, as well as donor and private sector roles. Closing the event, Vice-president Ordu said that Zimbabwe could achieve economic recovery with concerted efforts from the government and the people, the private sector and the donor community in mobilizing the huge resources required. He also underscored that knowledge and analytical work were no longer a luxury but a necessity for the Bank to maintain its status as Africa’s premier development finance institution.

The publication was released last month in Harare where the AfDB reopened its Zimbabwe office after 10 years. This was followed by a conference on the country’s economy and its ability to attract investments. AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, had observed that the country’s decade-long economic and political crisis had seriously impacted its economy. President Kaberuka, who represented the AfDB at the Euromoney Zimbabwe Investor Conference, noted that “about $14.2 billion would be needed to rehabilitate the existing infrastructure and add new capacity to meet growing demand during the decade ahead”. Under the circumstance, the proposed programs will be financed from the national budgets and contributions by state enterprises, donors and the private sector.  He said that urgent actions were required with regards to the country’s external debt, to make way for the mobilization of a proposed $2.8 billion donor support. “Donor financing is central to the rehabilitation program,” he added.

Mr. Kaberuka underscored “the impressive progress being made by Zimbabwe”, and appealed to all development partners to work in unison to help the country in its policy formulation strategies. He, however, advised that “the country should now consolidate these achievements and translate them into better livelihood for its people.”

Major economic benefits will be derived from the proposed action plan. These include a 7 % annual growth rate by 2020; increased GDP from the current $4.7 billion to $9.5 billion by 2020, implying a sharp GDP per capita increase to $ 600.  If implemented, the action plan will generate increased business opportunities in the services, construction sectors.

The report states that the AfDB will provide technical and financial assistance for arrears clearance; facilitate donor coordination and cooperation with the government; undertake more policy and advisory services,  as well as analytical work along the lines of the Infrastructure and growth action plan.

Donors will provide capacity building, institutional development, and technical support to strengthen government service provision. They will also be responsible for technical and financial restructuring, as well as support the arrears clearance process.

The government, for its part, will improve the operating environment, including strengthening the policy and legal framework for private investment.

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