Prosper Ndlovu recently in NIAMEY, Niger
ZIMBABWE is ready to tap into available financial services provided by the Africa Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to bolster its industrial transformation through increasing domestic production and upgrading regional trade.
In an interview on Friday at the close of the Africa Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on industrialisation and economic transformation held in Niamey, Niger, President Mnangagwa said practical industrialisation was already speeding economic growth and development.
During the summit, President Mnangagwa engaged continental counterparts, shared insights about Zimbabwe’s economic transformation story and invited heads of regional finance bodies to Harare for detailed investment talks on how Zimbabwe could access existing funding packages.
Executives of Afreximbank and AfDB in their presentations during the official opening session of the summit, outlined a chain of funding facilities for member States to use in growing their industrial capacities and scaling up intra-regional trade.
Coming out of a lengthy closed-door meeting, President Mnangagwa said the quest for regional integration came under intense deliberation by the continent’s leaders, and underscored the need to ensure every African member State played its part.
Harnessing opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) had to be embraced by all countries and Zimbabwe, as one of the pioneer signatories, was already a step ahead of others in terms of positioning itself for continental integration, said the President.
By championing rural industrialisation, driving value chain manufacturing modelling, boosting agriculture output to substitute import reliance, scaling up infrastructure investments, as well as embracing science, technology and innovation, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was already addressing bottlenecks that impeded economic growth and trade in the past.
“I realise that looking at the content of discussion and the papers that have been put forward at the summit, Zimbabwe is comfortable because we have already embraced these back home,” said the President.
“Zimbabwe is focusing on all these enablers: there is hardly any area where Zimbabwe is lagging behind. But beyond that, the Afreximbank representative, Professor (Benedict) Oramah, and the AfDB, showed several financing windows, which are available and we were not actually aware of these.
“After the meeting I sent messages to both presidents that I would want them to come so that we discuss to see how Zimbabwe can use some of the financial windows that they had explained to the conference.”
Financing industrialisation in Africa, and scaling up existing flagship programmes as the new approach to pursuing robust industrial transformation, was part of the key topics for discussion.
As such, President Mnangagwa said unlocking regional finance was most critical for Zimbabwe, whose development thrust is being hampered by continued imposition of sanctions by the US and some of its Western allies.
Due to sanctions, the country is unable to access fresh lines of credit from global finance houses while the compromised country risk profile makes it harder foreign direct investments and smooth trade flow.
In his speech, Prof Oramah said Africa’s economic transformation would be defined by the level of access to finance to drive key industrial capitalisation and growing intra-regional trade.
In his outline he said several funding packages offered by Afreximbank including Covid-19 cushioning support for central banks estimated at about US$80 billion, and support for procurement of key commodities such as fertiliser and for trade facilitation.
In a statement read by a senior bank official, AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the whole of Africa must embrace the AfCFTA and challenged member states to wean themselves off reliance of raw commodity exports by developing value chains.
The scaling up agriculture production was the prime area of opportunity for the continent and AfDB had availed up to US$25 billion to finance agro-industrial projects on the continent.
The bank has funding facilities for unlocking new power projects with focus on climate adaptation, value chain industrial production and capacitating women and the youth.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Frederick Shava, who attended preliminary meetings prior to the Heads of State and Government session with Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, stated that major discussions were focused on several measures that member states could implement to catalyse Africa’s industrialisation agenda, in line with the aspirations of Agenda 2063.
“We interrogated critical issues that are pertinent to the industrialisation agenda, such as: industrialising Africa through regional value chains development, innovation, intellectual property rights and technology transfer for enhanced productivity,” said the minister in a statement.
Other critical subject discussions included competitiveness and accelerated industrialisation, women and youth in industrial development in Africa.
This year’s summit was held under the theme: “Industrialising Africa: Renewed commitment towards inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and economic diversification”.
It was part of the annual Africa Industrialisation Week commemorative activities aimed at highlighting Africa’s renewed determination and commitment to regional industrialisation.