From tourism to investment to . . .

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Zimbabwe’s economic planners hope they can still scrabble something out of the 2010 World Cup currently under way in South Africa, but have quietly moved their targets from tourism to investment after disappointing results.
It raises very little empirical debate to assert that South Africa has snatched even the crumbs of bread that its neighbour and diplomatic friend was trying to reach out for, given reports of hotel occupancy rates as low as 18% at the country’s premier resorts – Victoria Falls and Nyanga.
“We should have investments coming to Zimbabwe, coming to Comesa, coming to Africa after the World Cup,” Desire Sibanda, Zimbabwe’s economic planning permanent secretary said yesterday during a national consultative workshop on Comesa’s draft Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP).
“The World Cup has demystified the perceptions that the world had about Africa, about Zimbabwe . . .”
The value of foreign investments is estimated to have rebounded after touching an all-time low of under $10 million from a high of $444 million in 2002 following Zimbabwe’s agrarian, political and economic problems that broke out at the turn of the decade.
The country now envisages investment-led growth after it successfully reversed over a decade of recession, which saw gross domestic product (GDP)—a measure of economic growth —shrinking by an estimated 50,3% from 2000 to 2008, about minus six% per annum.
However, Zimbabwe’s risk profile is still a big discomfort to potential foreign investors who constantly worry over its uncertain investment policies and laws.
Under its Mid-Term Plan (MTP), currently being developed, Zimbabwe targets increasing the ratio of investment of GDP to about 30% by 2015, hoping the World Cup, an improving economy, correcting markets and strengthening political stability would give investors a bill of confidence.
It also revealed plans to integrate Comesa’s MTSP, still a draft —into the MTP to ensure policy and implementation congruency.
Priority areas where most of the integration efforts will be expended include budgeting, investment, infrastructure, food security, energy and technology absorption.
“It’s no longer a Comesa plan. We want to consolidate it in our own plans and own it,” Sibanda, said. “We have completed the MTP. It’s now before the cabinet and just awaiting things like prefacing and so on.”
Comesa has drafted the five-year strategic plan to expedite the pace of regional integration through the promotion of trade and investment.
Comesa consults on regional strategic plan
The Common market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Africa’s largest regional economic community by geographical space, yesterday completed its sixth national consultations on its draft MTSP, which would catapult it to a common market in five years.
Similar workshops have already taken place in Malawi, Swaziland and Zambia.
Naming the free trade area launched in 2000 and the customs union launched last year as the major achievements of the current MTSP, which expires in December, the secretariat’s technical team convening the consultations yesterday said the second five-year strategic plan would register as much success.
The strategic plan will cover the period 2011-15.
“We want to formulate a plan, which will guide the Comesa integration process over the next five years in five key areas of cooperation with the broader aim of achieving a full-fledged common market by the end of the plan period in 2015,” said Chungu Mwila,
Comesa’s director for Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development.
The secretariat of the 19-member bloc is using the national consultations to lay out the broader objectives of the plan pivoted to Comesa’s core agenda of promoting and deepening regional integration and to solicit the input of member states in developing the final document.
It has a target to complete the final draft by July 15 and present the regional blue-print to the Comesa Authority of heads of state for adoption at their annual summit in August.
The plan should see the regional economic community through to a full-fledged customs union by June 2012 and take it further to a common market by 2012.
The single market would allow for the free movement of factors of production, namely capital, services and labour.
The five-fold plan entails firstly, enhancing the productive capacity of economies in the region through a technological upgrade to boost their global competitiveness and secondly to develop infrastructure to improve market access.
Other pillars include cooperation and partnership with development partners, institutional development and cross-cutting social and development issues such as gender, social development, climate change, statistics, peace and security, knowledge-based capacity and human capital.
Anne Ndirangu, Comesa’s monitoring and evaluation expert, also said the second MTSP would comprise an inbuilt mechanism for monitoring evaluation, which will be backed by a regional reporting system aiming to school member states about the benefits of deeper regional integration.
“It has been included because member states want it,” Ndirangu said. “It is a critical instrument to gauge progress and to ensure that as a region we arrive where we want to go.”