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By Golden Sibanda
THE 28th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa scheduled for Cape Town, South Africa, presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to update the world on milestones recorded under ongoing economic and political reforms.
The reforms, which are spelt out in the short-term economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), have widely been accepted by most development partners and international financial institutions.
With re-engagement and engagement in full swing, targeting previously hostile countries and deepening relations with friendly countries, Zimbabwe has an opportunity to update the world on the reforms in Harare.
Further, WEF provides the country a platform to lure investors.
The WEF on Africa runs from September 4 to 6, and is expected to discuss the continent’s development.
President Mnangagwa is scheduled to leave the country today for South Africa to join over 1 000 global leaders from the business, politics, academia and civil society sectors.
Other Heads of State and Government participating at the meeting include South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa; Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi; President of the Union of the Comoros Azali Assoumani; Prime Minister of Eswatini Mandulo Ambrose Dlamini; President of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde; Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika; Namibian President Hage Geingob; Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo; Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, and Danny Faure, President of Seychelles.
According to the WEF, Sub-Saharan Africa’s prosperity hinges on the ability of its leaders to create inclusive, sustainable growth at a time of rapid transformation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
When President Mnangagwa attended his maiden WEF meeting in Davos, Switzerland, he caught the attention of the world that had a wrong impression of how the country operates.
The “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” policy, which seeks to attract global investors, dovetails with this year’s WEF on Africa’s theme; “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
The theme is also in sync with Harare’s policy on digital technologies as a key plank of industrialisation.
And cognisant of global dynamics in technology and its critical importance in future growth, President Mnangagwa has directed the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) to lead Industry 4.0, in order to advance Zimbabwe’s entry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The President is on record as saying the successful delivery of ICTs in Africa in general, and Zimbabwe in particular, was key to driving economic development.
Zimbabwe has also committed one percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to research and development, in line with the African Union’s recommendation, in a bid to increase innovation capacity, productivity and ultimately economic growth.
This year’s WEF agenda will cover four key areas: innovation, sustainable development, digitalisation and governance.
Participants are also expected to discuss ways of accelerating progress on five transformative pan-African agendas in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, addressing the AU’s Agenda 2063 priorities.
The meeting will highlight improving the funding and regulatory environments for start-ups; developing new partnerships for re-skilling and up skilling workers, identifying opportunities for green growth such as the circular economy, scaling-up e-commerce for rapid business growth, especially in the SME sector, and how to leverage the new Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to drive regional integration.
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Also high on the agenda are government policies and responsible business practices to provide a foundation for a more inclusive society.
The WEF says while young Africans are 13 percent more entrepreneurial than the global average, start-ups on the continent are 14 percent more likely to fail than elsewhere in the world.
This is why the WEF on Africa will launch the Africa Growth Programme in Cape Town, providing a new platform to bring enterprises together with investors and institutions, helping them secure smarter funding.
Also to be launched at WEF 2019 are the Africa Risk Resilience Platform, a scheme to help governments prepare for, mitigate and prevent climate and disease-related disasters with the support of the private sector as well as Africa E-Commerce Agenda, a partnership between governments, the international trade community and the development community to create three million jobs by 2025.