As global political and economic movers and shakers converge in Cape Town, South Africa, for the 28th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa that kicks-off today, expectations are sky-high that Zimbabwe will walk tall after the meetings.
With the best climate suitable for commercial agriculture, an industry with an insatiable appetite for fresh investment, a mining sector with over 66 different minerals, and a tourism sector whose potential is clearly untapped, Zimbabwe should emerge from WEF on Africa 2019 with a bagful of potential investors.
Quite clearly, the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra has gained traction across the world, and with Government walking the talk on reforming the investment climate, the Zimbabwean delegation at the forum is expected to have a busy three days engaging potential investors.
The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, a thoroughly noble piece of legislation, but previously seen as an impediment to foreign investment, has been amended in a manner that allows investors to have control of their ventures.
President Mnangagwa and his ministers are also expected to clarify any issues that concern investors, and also highlight some areas that are clamouring for investment.
Further, the Zimbabwe delegation is anticipated to inform potential investors on the incentives available in Special Economic Zones. 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.
This year’s WEF on Africa’s theme is; “Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which is in sync with Harare’s policy on digital technologies as central to re-industrialisation.
And cognisant of global dynamics in technology and criticality in future growth, President Mnangagwa has ordered 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 has indicated that the successful delivery of ICTs in Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular was key to driving economic development.
The WEF on Africa also provides Zimbabwe an opportunity to set the record straight on fabricated stories circulated in hostile local and international media, and on social media by both locals and foreigners regards the political and/security situation in the country.
The events of August 16, which saw foreign countries meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs, have been spun out of contest by detractors and the WEF affords the country an opportunity to set the record straight on the issue.
Government also has an opportunity to apprise the world on the milestones recorded in terms of the economic and political reforms that started in October last year.
The reforms are being implemented under the short-term economic blueprint, the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP). Zimbabwe is working on a raft of reforms political, media, electoral and legal reforms in line with the constitution.
In addition, Government has deepened the fight against corruption which was threatening to tear apart our social fabric. As part of the electoral reforms, Government invited 64 different international election observer missions to observe last year’s harmonised elections.
Most of them were impressed by the build-up to the election, together with the voting period.
International observers had last been invited to monitor local polls at the turn of the millennium.
On economic reforms, which require selling during the WEF meeting in South Africa, Government has been on a crusade to engage international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the African Development Bank (AfDB), among others as it sought to acknowledge its arrears and also agree on a payment plan.
The reforms have since been accepted by most development partners and international financial institutions. Critically, the WEF on Africa 2019 is a platform for deepening the re-engagement and engagement process that Government is driving to re-establish and widen relations with all countries of the globe, especially those that were previously hostile to Harare.
So it is quite a hectic three days for President Mnangagwa and his delegation as they interact with over 1 000 global leaders from the business, politics, academia and civil society sectors.
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 reskilling and upskilling 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.
Also top of the agenda are Government policies and responsible business practices to provide a foundation for a more inclusive society.