ZIMBABWE’S economic growth will only be sustainable if the country’s revenue proceeds from mineral resources are channelled towards poverty reduction, a senior World Bank official has said.
Report by Tarisai Mandizha
The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth between 2009 and 2011 averaged an impressive 7,3%, including 9,3% in 2011, making it one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
Speaking in a video conference discussion on Monday, outgoing World Bank Africa region chief economist Shanta Devarajan said last year about a quarter of African countries grew at 7%.
“Since 2009, Zimbabwe’s growth is sustainable, but it depends, because this growth is primarily being driven by minerals extraction and growth in mineral extraction. It’s potentially sustainable, but it depends critically on how well productive the mineral revenues are,” Devarajan said.
“But if (the) government uses the minerals to support the poor by building their human capital, building education systems and strengthening their agricultural systems then we can have sustained growth.”
He said given the considerable amounts of new mineral revenues coming on stream across the region, resource-rich African countries would consciously need to invest these new earnings in better health, education, jobs and less poverty for the people in order to maximise national development prospects.
“In Zimbabwe’s case in particular, there actually should to be a series of policies instituted that will make the Zimbabwean economy more open and more competitive and that’s what’s going to make a big difference,” Devarajan added.
He said Zimbabwe should open up trade and market laws to reduce impending elements in the domestic markets in order to strengthen service delivery.
“(There is need) also to strengthen service delivery, delivery of education and health services which have deteriorated dramatically in a country that used to have a high level of service delivery,” he said.
He added that Zimbabwe should improve on governance issues in order to improve the quality of services including education and health.
Zimbabwe’s strong economic rebound in the last four years has been attributed to the adoption of the multi-currencies in January 2009.