FOR Manicaland to significantly contribute towards the attainment of an upper middle income economy by 2030, the province needs to up its game and attain a US$10 billion economy in the next eight years, a senior Government official has said.
In an exclusive interview with The Manica Post on Wednesday, Director for Economic Development in the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Mr Munyaradzi Rubaya said Manicaland should leverage on its low hanging fruits in areas where it has competitive advantages against other provinces.
The province has competitive advantages in the mining, tourism and agricultural sectors, particularly in fruits and vegetables production.
Manicaland also has good soils and a favourable climate.
Its perennial rivers and dams can be used for power generation, surfing, fish farming and irrigation.
Currently, the provincial economy stands at around US$2,5b.
Through its recently crafted economic plan, Manicaland wants to grow its economy by at least seven percent annually for it to achieve a US$10b economy by 2030.
“Our provincial economy is currently around US$2,5b and we want to grow it by at least seven to 10 percent annually for us to achieve a US$10b economy. For us to contribute towards the attainment of Vision 2030, we need to up our game as a province.
“According to the National Development Strategy (NDS1), national economic growth should be around five percent per annum, but as Manicaland, we are saying we need a provincial economic growth of between seven and 10 percent as we are lagging behind.
“According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe latest figures, Manicaland’s Gross Domestic Product is on third position. Manicaland is endowed with a lot of resources, thereby making it one of the richest provinces in the country.
“However, in terms of per capita GDP (GDP per person), we are number six. We produce a lot of things, but we sell them in their raw state. Through that, we are attracting little value from our products and resources. In short, we are exporting jobs and value to Harare where processing of our raw materials is done.
“For example, in all areas where bananas are produced in Manicaland, farmers are selling them for US$1 for 40. When they are transported to Harare where they are processed into yoghurts and other products, the same bananas will produce products worth US$40 such that the province processes our produce has more GDP per capita. This also applies to tobacco where a farmer realises about US$300 per bale, while those who process the same tobacco realises about US$50 000 from the boxes of cigarettes produced,” said Mr Rubaya.
GDP is the final value of goods and services produced within the geographic boundaries of a given area during a year and it is widely viewed as a key indicator of the economic performance of that given area.
GDP per capita, on the other hand, measures the economic output of a given area per person.
Mr Rubaya said to ensure that the province adequately benefits from its resources, especially in farming, value addition should start at the farm.
“We have diamonds, yes, but we should not solely depend on them to grow the provincial economy. Manicaland is blessed with all the five natural regions, good soils, above normal rainfall, dams and perennial rivers which can be used to boost horticulture.
“Value addition should be intensified in the areas producing fruits and vegetables. Abundant fruits are found across the province – from apples, avocado pears, bananas and pineapples. Nowhere else will you find these fruits in abundance across the country, but are we really getting value out of them? Then there is the coffee, tea and macadamia nuts.
“Our major challenge is value addition. We should take a leaf from other countries and ensure that value addition starts on the farm. We should have value addition centres in all areas where fruits are grown.
“We need a lot of investment in these areas.
“We also need to standardise our production chain as it is currently haphazard. A farmer will benefit more if value addition is done on the farm or in their community. Jobs will also be created for the community, unlike the present scenario where jobs are only created on the farm.
“There is also need to set up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the province. Plans are already at an advanced stage to set up an SEZ in Nyanga,” he said.
Mr Rubaya said Manicaland should be energy self-sufficient as it has abundant water, wind and sunshine to generate power.
“The province has a lot of perennial rivers and gorges where hydro-power can be generated and we want to attract more investors in that area. We want to become energy self-sufficient. Due to Manicaland’s proximity to the Indian Ocean, there is huge potential to produce wind-powered energy. We have very windy areas in Penhalonga and Nyanga. The wind can be harnessed to produce power. Sunshine is also abundant in all the districts across the province, hence we should be generating a lot of solar power,” he said.
In terms of promoting exports and trade, Mr Rubaya said the construction of a dry port in Mutare will be a game changer.
“Some transporters and exporters shun Forbes Border Post despite its proximity to the Sea Port of Beira because of the long queues and processes in clearing goods on transit. The construction of a dry port will see an increase in the volume of traffic being processed per day and this will create a lot of jobs for the clearing agents and vehicle maintenance companies. Accommodation facilities will be constructed for the truckers and exporters. This will have multiple effects to the economy as the creation of more jobs means more economic growth.
“Our fruits and vegetables will also be easily exported to foreign markets using the Sea Port of Beira,” he said.
Mr Rubaya said Manicaland’s vision is to create more jobs.
“Manicaland is the second most populace province after Harare and more jobs have to be created, both formal and informal ones. We have fully embraced Education 5.0 where tertiary institutions are producing graduates who can produce marketable products and services. We want everyone to be productive,” he said.