Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Government says it is determined to commit significant funds towards infrastructure development, with $1,5 billion having been budgeted for the widening of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway over the next three years.
The move to invest heavily in infrastructure, using locally generated resources, is seen as central to spurring economic growth and the consequently the achievement of an upper middle income economy by 2030.
This was said yesterday by Major General Godfrey Chanakira (retired), who is the Permanent Secretary in the Office of Vice President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, in his keynote address during the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) – Construction Industry Federation of Zimbabwe (Cifoz) conference in Harare.
“The Government is cognisant of the huge resource requirements for rebuilding the economy and has prioritised funding infrastructural development, a key ingredient for powering the economy,” said Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira.
“The amount and quality of a nation’s economic infrastructure has an important bearing on economic growth in both the medium and long-term.
“It (infrastructure) is often viewed as the wheels of economic activity since it provides the environment for productive activities to take place and facilitates the generation of growth.”
This comes as Government, through the 2019 National Budget, has allocated $1,5 billion for the construction of the Harare-Beitbridge Highway, after noting that foreign contractors were fairly expensive.
Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira said the Harare-Beitbridge Highway project will receive the funds in tranches of $500 million per annum.
“The trickle down effects of the highway project are numerous and diverse. There are also numerous other projects which are worth millions of dollars that are lined up for implementation in the public sector’s construction area and these include water and sanitation, road networks and housing.”
Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira said President Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra has now brought about several construction projects that are set to “take-off in the coming phase”.
He added that it was critical for the local construction sector to prepare for the boom in the construction sector, to improve the liquidity situation in the country through circulating money internally.
Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira explained that a sound public procurement system, practices and standards, serve as a stimulant to economic growth as they help to curb corruption, reduce wastage, enhance the effectiveness of Government spending, ensure infrastructural development, enhance the welfare of the people, increase their attractiveness to foreign investment and ultimately engender higher economic growth rate and development levels.
Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira said public capital projects, as those lined up in the sanitation, housing and road construction, require effective and efficient procurement as they involve public funds, which should stimulate socio-economic development of the country.
Government has partnered Cifoz through PRAZ, upon recognising that the private sector remains the engine of sustainable future growth, guided by one of its functions “to consult regularly with persons in the public and private sectors who have an interest in the public procurement system, in order to assess their perception of the system”.
Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira says it has become imperative for the country to develop its infrastructure considering that it is “strategically and geographically” located at the centre of the region.
He said quality transport infrastructure is critical for integration of the Zimbabwean economy with other economies in the region.
“Zimbabwe moves from being a ‘land-locked country’ to a ‘land-linked country’. It is a paradox to have modern highways while our rural networks are way below standard.
“The need to drastically improve the rural roads and infrastructure is of paramount importance as it contributes to the generality of Zimbabwe’s road infrastructure at large. There should not be much difference between an urban road and a rural road for roads provide linkages to economic hubs,” said Rtd Maj-Gen Chanakira.
The two-day PRAZ-Cifoz conference, which ends today, runs under the theme: “Towards Vision 2030 National Transport, Housing and Infrastructure projects — harnessing public and private sector synergies.”
Source : The Herald