via ‘Zim has no database on economic enablers’ | The Herald April 23, 2015
ZIMBABWE lacks a comprehensive database of its stock of infrastructure for comparison of statistics on access, usage, quality and affordability, critical in formulating policies that drive the economy, a research report says. The report by the Zimbabwe Economic and Policy Analysis Research Unit notes that available indicators on the country’s infrastructure were found in and spread over a number of publications including Zimstat and Potraz.
While many countries, including Zimbabwe face large gaps in the stock and quality of infrastructure, the demand for infrastructure investment is rising, at a time infrastructure has become more critical for attracting foreign investment and regional integration.
“Comparable statistics on access, use, quality, and affordability of infrastructure are needed to formulate (economic) growth-enabling policies, monitor and evaluate the sector’s impact on development,” Zeparu said.
The research unit said that “just investing is not good enough; there is need for continuous assessment of the condition of existing infrastructure” in a country.
The autonomous think tank said that assessment was critical to operate and maintain infrastructure efficiently in order to reap full benefits from investment.
According to Zeparu, Zimbabwe has been characterised by a continuous deterioration in public infrastructure due to a decade-long economic downturn.
Following a period of economic stability spanning the last half a decade, Government attention has now shifted to having investment in growth-enhancing infrastructure in sectors such as power, transport and water sectors. Energy, information communication technology, adequate and efficient rail system also form components of key enablers economies need to drive growth and the Government is responding to address existing deficits.
On appreciating its limitations in meeting such obligations; the Government has since taken a stance to adopt public-private sector partnerships (PPP), under which the private sector would be called in to partner Government. Zeparu said implications of lack of up to date data on infrastructure included country risk, under/over provision of some infrastructure, under/over provision of some infrastructure in certain areas at the expense of others.
The country also risks poor quality infrastructure if there is no basis for assessment, falling behind other countries in infrastructure provision (no basis for benchmarking) and failure to attract meaningful infrastructure investment.
Poor infrastructure, Zeparu said, was a critical barrier to accelerating growth and poverty reduction in Zimbabwe and, arguably, the rest of the world.
According to the World Bank, a 10 percent increase in infrastructure investment contributes an average of 1 percent to gross domestic product growth. Research has also proved that having the right kind of infrastructure in place reduced transaction costs, improved competitiveness and facilitated trade.