From Victoria Ruzvidzo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
THE African Development Bank has said Zimbabwe’s economy is now on a firm recovery path. The bank’s president, Mr Donald Kaberuka, said although the economy had suffered setbacks in the last decade, it was now in resurgence, adding
that Zimbabwe was one of the richest countries in Africa in terms of natural resources.
Speaking at a media briefing here yesterday, Mr Kaberuka said the restoration of macro-economic stability and other efforts to stabilise the economy were beginning to pay dividends.
“Investors are now lining up in Zimbabwe,” he said. “The economy has moved from red to yellow and is going for green.”
He said this to illustrate the progress with the sequence of traffic lights.
AfDB has remained one of Zimbabwe’s major financiers, pouring in millions of dollars to salvage the economy at a time other multilateral and bilateral financiers were sitting on the fence.
Over the past few years, the bank has injected more than US$700 million into the economy.
The AfDB is considered an authority on African economies and investors and trading partners take a cue from its submissions.
Mr Kaberuka said Zimbabwe’s future looked bright, urging authorities to bring clarity on issues such as property rights and the rule of law, which had remained hazy in some instances.
But some of the challenges the country was said to be facing were based on perception rather than fact, he said.
“Zimbabwe is not a poor country at all; it’s one of the richest countries on the continent.”
The country has over the past few years elicited keen interest at the World Economic Forum as potential investors and business partners sought clarity on the status of the economy and the political situation while some sections of the media have sought to perpetuate their perceptions on the country, using the forum as a platform to accentuate their “hate speech”.
But the situation is different this year as the economy continues to perform ahead of the continent’s average growth of 6 percent.
Some interactive sessions yesterday showed that many were still ignorant of developments in Zimbabwe.
Last year, the economy registered a 9,3 percent growth, which was an improvement from 8,1 percent in 2010. In 2009 a figure of 6,1 percent was achieved.
Government projects a 9,4 percent growth this year.
Inflation, which shed 0,5 percentage points to 4 percent in March is presently the lowest in the region.
The macro-economic stability and indications of future growth have rekindled investor interest with Zimbabwe hosting several delegations since the beginning of the year.
Although it has not fared well on the Global Doing Business Index, the situation on the ground shows significant improvement.
The discovery of diamonds in Marange, increased gold and platinum production and the improvements in the tobacco sector, among other developments, are expected to spur growth.
In an interview here yesterday, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the world needed to realise that the situation in Zimbabwe had been transformed for the better.
“Not many people are aware that Zimbabwe achieved the highest growth rate in Africa in the last few years,” he said.
“Not many know that we have the lowest inflation in the region. Do they even know that we have the highest percentage revenue to GDP at 30 percent and that we
are in the top three of the countries in Africa with the highest literacy level? This is the story we are here to sell.
“This is one thing you can not take away from President Mugabe . . . education.
“Zimbabwe is high up there and we have the most people in Africa occupying quality positions per capita.
“As an economy, we are a cheetah, not a hyena. We just need as a country to subordinate politics to issues of development, job creation, inclusivity . . . As far as
President Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirayi are concerned, its Zimbabwe first. So let’s all do that.”
Minister Biti said the Forum presented a grand stage at which Zimbabwe would present its case to the world while also learning from experiences in other countries.
Zimbabwe was keen on attracting capital to develop such infrastructure as roads, power stations and dams, among other requirements, to boost economic activity.