Lincoln Towindo, Harare Bureau
Zimbabwe is going through the primary stages of a radical economic transformation that will witness the country becoming middle-income economy by 2030, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
After touring Univern Enterprises (Southern Region Trading Company) in Harare yesterday, the President said the country could become an economic giant over a short period of time if all Zimbabweans worked towards economic development.
According to the World Bank, a middle-income economy is one with a gross national income ranging between US$1 005 and US$12 235 per capita. Currently, the World Bank classifies Zimbabwe as a low-income economy.
Previously the World Bank referred to low-income and middle-income economies as developing economies but changed the nomenclature in 2016, citing lack of specificity in that term. Botswana, South Africa, Algeria and Namibia are among African countries classified as middle-class economies.
Yesterday, President Mnangagwa said he would lead Zimbabwe towards catching up with its peers after a long period of stagnation and underdevelopment.
“It is my pleasure to be exposed to the technology you have introduced. I am sure it is state-of-the-art worldwide. I did not know we had these facilities in Zimbabwe. In some areas I think we are at the top of the ladder in terms of the modernity of the technology we have. That is the way to go and that is where we are going.
“We cannot remain mediocre; this is why we say Zimbabwe is open for business because we want to catch up, to leapfrog and catch up with other countries. And my mantra now, besides Zimbabwe is open for business, is that by 2030 we must be a middle-income country. And the potential is such that it is possible to achieve if everybody realises that they have a role to play to achieve such a goal; it is better for everybody and it’s good for everybody,” he said.
President Mnangagwa is leading an aggressive realignment of the country’s economy through introducing far-reaching reforms and re-engagement with the international community.
Through his open for business campaign, authorities are opening investment opportunities to international and local investors who were previously reluctant to bring their money to Zimbabwe. The President has emphasised that economic revival and growth are at the centre of his Government’s agenda.
Already, Government has refined the contentious indigenisation law, while an Investment Handbook has been launched as part of measures to attract capital. Investment pledges amounting to over US$3 billion have been made since President Mnangagwa assumed office in November 2017, and Government is working on actual implementation of projects.
During his tour yesterday, President Mngangagwa praised Univern for its innovative technology that cuts across ICT systems development and supplying highly mechanised agricultural equipment.
The company partnered Zinara to computerise the road toll system, and the authority’s revenues have grown 100 percent as a result. In 2005, the Central Vehicle Registry contracted Univern to supply highly secure vehicle registration plates; and last year the firm supplied the Zimbabwe Republic Police with a high-tech electronic traffic management system.
“I realise you can almost monitor the country from here except the Office of the President,” he said with a chuckle. “It is very interesting. And most importantly you have a backup system; we have those boys and girls who we saw who are talking to various centres throughout the country so that problems and challenges can be attended to without delay.
“It is fantastic. It is fantastic. I wish you success, more innovation, and more introduction of ICT. You know our young generation, these boys and girls, will adapt to these things very easily. Us of the older generation, we just create the environment for them to excel. Those with talent must be rewarded for that talent.”
The firm’s chief executive, Mr Phil Mushosho, said their partnership with Government had helped plug revenue leakages and improve efficiencies.
“We are quite honoured to have had the privilege to host the President . . . it has always been our desire for Government to know what our contribution is. We do a number of systems here that have helped the Government raise revenue by plugging loopholes and bringing in efficiencies. We also do agriculture and construction equipment, we believe in Zimbabwe and we believe in latest and best technology to improve the way we do things. So, we intend to bring the best in the latest in terms of agriculture innovation and precision farming.”