Let’s make Africa an economic powerhouse


Let’s make Africa an economic powerhouse
IT is not rocket science that crude and inefficient infrastructure is a roadblock for African economies to flourish, especially for emerging economies, hence attaining global value from all fronts of development requires robust infrastructure networks.

Africa has the potential to become a sensational economic powerhouse.

According to the World Bank, African regional trade remains hugely under-utilised.

Trade between African countries currently represents only 12% of total economic activity in the region, compared to 60% in Europe and 40% in Asia.

The World Bank is one of Africa’s closet development partners and has been working its way to improve the region’s infrastructure since 2010 via a US$228 million project that goes directly into modernising transport and customs infrastructure along the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor.

The region is building its way to the top standing on a US$2,7 trillion collective gross domestic product, and developing an infrastructure network that functions like clockwork is essential.

The United Nations estimates that approximately 60% of the continent’s population lacks access to modern infrastructure, divorcing communities, limiting access to health care, education and jobs, and more importantly impedes economic growth.

According to Tralac, a South African independent think-tank, inadequate transport adds around 30% to 40% to the costs of goods traded along with African nations.

As 16 nations exist in landlocked geographic locations, countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya are developing infrastructures, particularly roads and railways transporting people and cargo to locked nations such as Burundi and Rwanda.

On the other side of the aisle, projects waved by the World Bank are tackling critical angles such as reducing border crossing times and the quality of the roads.

A new US$470 million project that will promote regional integration and economic opportunities in Burkina Faso, Niger, and Togo has just been launched.

However, it is not only about improving road networks across the region, it is about sustainability and efficiency.

Border crossing causes a lot of trouble in West Africa — as it is slow and complicated, particularly for West Africa.

Attending to this problem is essential as it cuts the dead-wood in the entire road transport landscape for such long-distance corridors.

Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways and South African Airlines have demonstrated how vital infrastructures that function well boost local economies, hence replicating the latter in other nations is crucial.-Developer

Buy vehicles for ZRP and not chiefs

I TOTALLY agree with Chief Masuku of Gwanda, who highlighted an upsurge in murder cases in Gwanda and urged government to give police resources, as reported in NewsDay recently.

Several police stations in the country face a challenge of inadequate vehicles and this affects their policing duties.

Like here in Rushinga, there is one station vehicle which is sometimes borrowed by other stations.

Police are at the mercy of the public asking for transport to attend to crime scenes.

In one incident, I saw a police officer single-handedly taking two handcuffed accused persons to court.

Conventional buses, when available, usually assist the police officers with free transport.

The challenge is that in some areas, there are no buses at all, and commuter omnibus crews usually refuse to assist.

In some cases, police officers end up paying bus fares for accused persons going to court.

This is despite the fact that the police officers earn very low salaries.

You will see a police detail  carrying a rape or murder docket to court using public transport.

That is putting the life of the police officer in danger. He can be killed and the docket destroyed.

It does not make sense, for government to buy chiefs vehicles when police are ordered by their commanders, to attend scenes using their own resources.

Police should computerise their operations rather than using outdated methods like in the case of records, where one has to move around with mountains of paper.

If computerised, files are just a click away. Key police sections like investigations, operations, must have their own vehicles despite there being a station vehicle.-Alexio Rashirai

Worsening social, political and economic landscape means trouble for Zim
CONDITIONS for the people of Zimbabwe continue to go from bad to worse. Triple digit inflation shows no signs of slowing.

Over half of the country lives in poverty. Its corrupt government lurches from disinterest in the population’s pain to rosy projections for growth based on pure fantasy to clumsy interventions like the recent short-lived edict banning banks from lending.

Politically, the merger of the ruling Zanu PF party and senior military leadership has long been complete, and they have become inextricable from the State itself.

But because Zimbabweans, in the form of independent journalists, opposition politicians, and local activists, refuse to give up on their efforts to hold government accountable for its actions, State-sponsored campaigns of repression and political violence continue.

In an effort to give the intimidation a veneer of legality, the country’s leaders are now working to dismantle civil society, pursuing draconian legislation aimed at private voluntary organisations (PVOs) that would, in the words of a network of mostly African human rights defenders, provide government with “unrestricted power to deregister, target, and harass PVOs deemed critical of the government”.

Embracing irony, the same government that sustains itself with illicit transnational cartels justifies its efforts by pretending they are necessary to meet the requirements of the financial action task force.

The shamelessness is unsurprising, but the PVO legislation is another important indicator that there will be nothing remotely resembling a level playing field as the 2023 elections draw near.

All of these developments, compounded by the economic and social consequences of COVID-19 lockdowns and global disruptions arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have left Zimbawbe’s young people suffering.

Finding themselves in the midst of grinding poverty and extraordinarily high unemployment rates, they must also contend with the fact that migration in search of opportunity looks riskier than ever as xenophobia gains strength in South Africa.

Drug abuse among young people has soared, apparently driven by a nihilistic despair, and their government has neither the policy framework, resources, or will to provide adequate addiction and recovery services.

As Zimbabwe’s problems deepen and multiply, its neighbours assume more and more risk. Southern Africa’s trajectory is growing more uncertain.

Visions of a vibrant, well-integrated, and prosperous sub-region have to contend not just with the instability in Mozambique and economic malaise of regional giant South Africa, but also with the realities of Zimbabwe, its ongoing downward spiral, and the health and future of its young people,who account for the majority of the country’s population.

There is nothing neighbourly in pretending that all is well in Zimbabwe and inviting more of the same.

Real solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe requires acknowledging the abuses and excesses of its elite, aiding those in desperate need, and finding ways to support those who keep pushing for meaningful change.-Michelle Gavin