Source: World profits at Zimbabwe’s expense | The Financial Gazette August 12, 2016
By Allen Choruma
AS political bickering and infighting intensifies in Zimbabwe as politicians jostle to consolidate their positions ahead of 2018 elections, the country’s economy has fallen victim and continues to drown barely achieving 1,7 percent growth in 2016. However, there are no significant remedial measures being put in place to stimulate the ailing economy.
It looks like Zimbabwe’s leaders have a curse conjured on them so bad that it has obscured their vision and crippled their thinking to the extent that they are clueless as to how they can fix the economy for the betterment of peoples’ lives.
One wonders whether the leaders are really serious about this country, about its sustainable development, uplifting living standards of the people and creating opportunities for present and future generations of this country.
God blessed Zimbabwe with abundant wealth, natural and mineral resources, good weather and a peace-loving people, but gosh, we have let Him down. As a nation, we continue to struggle daily and many of us can barely put food on the table.
Zimbabwe, still living in the shadows of its past glory of being the “bread basket of Africa”, an idiom which by the way is alien and means nothing to the “born-free generation”, will soon be eclipsed by other African countries that are prioritising development.
Zimbabweans seem not to realise that politicking and sloganeering does not put bread on the table. Focus, innovation, integrity and hard work does.
What has become of our priorities as a nation? When the auditor-general, Mildred Chiri, issues a report on the state of affairs (and corruption) in government, public enterprises and local authorities, our leaders ignore it as a none event. Yet when a bunch of war veterans issue a political “communiqué” they go bonkers!
Instead of focussing on fiscal discipline, fighting corruption, creating a stimulating investment climate and economic turnaround, job creation, drought relief and so on, politicians continue to be fixated on trite slogans, political factions, war vets and bond notes.
The World Bank on its website has even remarked: “The fundamentals for growth and poverty reduction are strong, provided the country (Zimbabwe) can tackle its political fragilities and build a consensus around inclusive and competitive investment policies.”
While its doom and gloom in Zimbabwe, some of our fellow Africans are setting their priorities right and have stepped up their efforts by embarking on record breaking economic development projects that will fundamentally change the face of their countries and uplift living standards of their people.
Below are some of the major economic development activities taking place across Africa.
A tinny African country called Rwanda, ravaged by the effects of genocide in 1994, has surprised many given its not too distant horrific history. The leadership in Rwanda is rebuilding this country through hard work and a common national vision. Rwandans’ Vision 2020 is bullish. Rwanda aims to be a middle income country by 2020.
Rwandan economy has averaged eight percent growth since 2013.
In 2015, Rwanda recorded 6,90 percent economic growth compared to Zimbabwe’s 2,7 percent.
This high economic growth has resulted in substantial improvements in people’s living standards and access to services.
Poverty rate has dropped from 59 percent in 2001 to 45 percent in 2011.
Its gross domestic product (GDP) grew by more than 800 percent from US$753 636 370 million in 1994 to US$8,096 billion in 2015.
Life expectancy has increased from 27 years (1993/1994) to 64 years (2014).
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s life expectancy dropped below Rwanda to 57 years in 2014 while economic growth rates have headed south since 2013.
Unlike Harare, Kigali is now ranked as one of the cleanest cities in Africa. Rwanda recently completed a US$500 million conference facility which hosted the last African Union Summit end of July.
In May, Rwanda successfully hosted the World Economic Forum on Africa.
Rwanda is also part of the US$1,35 billion Mombasa-Kigali railway project set for completion in March 2018.
Despite its political and economic meltdown following the Arab Spring that saw the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Egypt has awoken from its internal turmoil and is moving in a new economic recovery and development trajectory.
Suez Canal: The Cairo administration embarked on a massive upgrade of the Suez Canal in 2013 at a cost of US$8 billion.
For those whose history is fading, the Suez Canal is a 193-kilometre water channel that links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea and was first opened in 1869.
The Suez upgrade project was initially estimated to take three years to complete, but the Egyptian president wouldn’t have it.
The project time was revised to one year. The Suez Canal has doubled its capacity of maritime traffic from 49 vessels a day to 97 vessels a day. Now shipping vessels can sail in both directions.
What is more interesting is that this project was domestically funded. Instead of extending begging bowls to international donors, the Egyptian leadership turned to its own people.
Government issued US$9 billion in government bonds/certificates (which were over-subscribed) with an interest rate of 12 percent.
New Egyptian capital city: Egyptians have not rested on their laurels. They have now embarked on a mega development of a new capital city, 45 km east of Cairo in the middle of the desert. This project, covering an area of 270 square miles, will cost US$45 billion and will be completed by 2022 (a mere six years from now).
The new capital will be a smart city with renewable energy farms. It will host a population of five million people, house all government ministries and foreign embassies and also create a central park double the size of New York Central Park, 663 hospitals and clinics, 40 000 hotel rooms, a theme park like Disney, new airport, an advanced metro system, tall monument to resemble Eiffel Tower (a symbol of triumph).
Unlike Zimbabwean projects that are characterised by a lot of talk and no action, work has already began with the construction of houses at a cost of US$2 billion. This housing project will take 18 months to complete and work has commenced and is expected to be completed in 2018 (18 months).
Other major African projects
Other interesting five major projects reported in various media that are taking place across Africa are:
1)West African rail network to connect Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo
West African countries and mining companies are investing in a massive rail project which, when completed, will be 3 000 km long and link Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo. The project will combine newly constructed rail and also upgrading of the existing railway lines.
2) The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia, on the Blue Nile River. The project is owned by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation. The project kicked off in April 2011 at a cost of US$4,7 billion and it is expected to be completed by July 2017 and is being funded by the people and the government of Ethiopia.
3) The Mombasa-Kigali Railway Project is on-going and its completion is set for March 2018. The project is estimated to cost US$1,35 billion and will cover a distance of 2 940km upon completion. The project started in March 2013 and is being carried out by China Communication and Construction Company and will run from the Port of Malaba, Kampala then Kigali in Rwanda.
4) Kenya’s Konza Techno City is a US$14,5 billion project, being built on over 5 000 acres of land, 64km south of Nairobi as part of the Kenya Vision 2030 development programme. This project dubbed “African Silicon Savanna” is expected to take about 20 years to complete. Konza City aims to attract business process outsourcing, software development, data centres, disaster recovery centres, call centres and light assembly manufacturing industries.
5) The Ethiopia-to-Djibouti rail link to the Red Sea port of Doraleh, in Djibouti, is on-going and is expected to cost US$2 billion and cover 756km. The railway line was subdivided to accommodate contractors from China, China Railway Engineering Corporation and China Civil Engineering Construction Cooperation. When complete, this will give Ethiopia direct rail access to the Red Sea, boosting trade.
Ethiopians have also embarked on a commuter light rail network in Addis (the first in Africa) with the initial phase already completed at a cost of US$450 million.
Going back to Zimbabwe, most of our projects remain in offices accumulating dust and cobwebs. Can anyone tell us what has happened to the following projects: Chitungwiza commuter rail, Kunzvi Dam, Zambezi/Matabeleland Water Project, Ziscosteel, Batoka Gouge, Mt Hampden capital city etc.
By the way, the flyover bridge at Mabvuku turn-off, Harare was “hastily” opened on July 22, 2016. Some work remains incomplete. It took the Department of Roads close to two years to “complete” this tiny flyover project. It took Egypt one year to double the size of the 193-km Suez Canal! Please let’s be serious Zimbabweans. We have a lot of potential and can do better than this.
Allen Choruma can be contacted on e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org