via Denmark earmarks $34m aid – DailyNews Live 9 November 2014 by John Kachembere
HARARE – Denmark has earmarked $34 million in aid to be channelled toward reviving the country’s economy and improving the livelihood of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Erik Rasmussen, the Danish ambassador to Zimbabwe said his country would be spending nearly $30 million this year in Zimbabwe, making the European nation the largest donor to Zimbabwe per capita.
“Next year our assistance is expected to increase further to around $34 million,” he said adding that this year Denmark initiated a cultural programme which included cultural exchanges.
This comes as relations between the two countries are slowly improving since 2009 when the inclusive government was formed.
The Nordic country had closed its embassy in Harare in 2002 after violent and disputed presidential elections and halted all aid to the country through the Danish International Development Agency, which had poured in more than $750 million since 1995.
In a clear signal of normalising relations between the two countries, Denmark’s Trade and Development minister, Mogens Jensen, is currently in the country to explore possible commercial opportunities between the Nordic country and the southern African nation.
Rasmussen said Jensen — who is the first senior politician from a Western nation to officially visit Zimbabwe since the elections in 2013 — will also assess progress on Danish-funded projects.
He added that from a Danish perspective, the visit was an opportunity for Denmark’s Trade minister to assess the current situation in Zimbabwe. “The engagement with government officials will also signify a willingness to seek dialogue, a dialogue that will be open and non-prescriptive.
“Denmark having been away from Zimbabwe from 2002-2010 is now again here with a sizeable presence, the visit will cement that,” he said.
Denmark and Zimbabwe have a long history of cooperation. During the struggle for independence, Denmark was a strong supporter of a free and independent Zimbabwe and continued to provide extensive support for its development after independence.
Following the crisis culminating around 2008, Denmark contributed to re-establishing health and education services through the provision of textbooks for all primary and secondary students, as well as supporting health worker retention in government hospitals.
Together with other development partners Denmark has since 2008 helped about 2 million of the most vulnerable people out of immediate food shortage and distress.
With the gradual increase in development cooperation Denmark has emerged as one of the largest bilateral donors in the country with the Royal Danish Embassy Office in Harare administrating the on-going Danida programme in the country.