ZIMBABWE needs over $30 billion to revamp its ageing and dilapidated infrastructure, as part of efforts to implement deepening regional integration in Southern Africa, secretary for Finance and Economic Development Willard Manungo, has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Briefing journalists in Bulawayo yesterday on the sidelines of an ad-hoc expert group meeting on deepening regional integration in Southern Africa: The Role Prospects and Progress of the Tripartite Free Trade Area, Manungo said infrastructure was key in the implementation of regional integration.
“If I speak on behalf of Zimbabwe, we have indicated that we require over $30 billion to do justice to the infrastructural requirements and this is infrastructure that is spanning across various sectors. You are looking at transport, you are looking at power, you are looking at other utilities that are access to water, access to sanitation,” Manungo said.
“For our requirements as Zimbabwe in terms of the estimates we did with the African Development Bank, is to say we need a minimum of $30 billion to do justice to infrastructure within Zimbabwe. But if you are talking about deepening regional integration it’s not enough to have just infrastructure either just in Zambia or Malawi.”
“You now need infrastructure to be such that if somebody is moving from South Africa into Zambia, into DRC or into Malawi or into Angola, you all need all of us as southern African countries to be ensuring that infrastructure is conducive to the movement of goods and services across the borders,” he said.
Manungo said there are three pillars that have been identified for Southern Africa to be able to deepen integration.
One is to recognise need to develop industry within the Southern African region.
“The pillar of having industrial development is moving away from over dependence on producing and exporting commodities. So the issues of value addition, the whole debate about value chain all that is the part of that thrust to say let’s have industrial development within member countries and within the region,” he said.
“We don’t have infrastructure. The goods are produced and have to be moved to the markets. So the issues of infrastructure become a challenge.”
The Treasury secretary said removing trade barriers contributes to the expansion of cross-border trade and with it regional trade, expansion or markets and economic development.
“The opening of our markets to each other enhances the development of regional value chains and will increase intra trade, stimulate economic growth and lift people out of poverty,” he said.
“While there is scope for deeper regional integration, there are significant structural and policy bottlenecks in the region that need to be addressed to expedite the process of accelerating integration.
He said Southern African region suffers from a critical deficiency in infrastructure particularly regarding access to electricity, transport, information and communication technology, water and sanitation and irrigation, among others.
Zimbabwe’s infrastructure is dilapidated, thanks to years of neglect. The deteriorating infrastructure has become a major cost on business, making Zimbabwe lose its competitiveness.