In his book entitled, The Price of Inequality, revered economist, Joseph Stiglitz, contends that Government investments in infrastructure, education and technology form the basis of economic growth.
In his own words Stiglitz, wrote: “Government investments – in infrastructure, education, and technology – underpinned growth in the last century, and they can form the basis of growth in this century. These investments will expand the economy and make private investment even more attractive.”
A clinical diagnosis of the day to day business of the New Dispensation Government speaks to the prioritisation of investments in infrastructure, education and technology with youths being at the centre of the initiatives.
Minister of Finance, Prof Mthuli Ncube through the 2019 budget, cemented Government’s call towards its chosen path of economic growth which speaks to the aforementioned sectors.
More importantly, Prof Ncube, who in his budget spoke strongly about the Demographic Dividend has barely a month later, launched the country’s UN supported report on “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend in Zimbabwe.”
The report places youths at their rightful deserved place in the path towards the revival of the country’s economy. Speaking on the role of youths, Prof Ncube is on record as having said: “Economic transformation the world over, now strategically puts ahead programmes geared towards embracing the youths in order to harness the demographic dividend arising from the educated, trained and qualified youth.”
Noteworthy, is that the report is a product of the 2013 African Union adoption of the Addis Abba Declaration on Population and Development in Africa beyond 2014 under the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend: The Future We Want."
More refreshing is Prof Mthuli commitment to the embracement of youths in the path towards Zimbabwe’s economic transformation. In his speech at the launch of the report Prof Ncube said “… more often than not, when we speak on issues of economic growth, we pay less attention to a critical cog in the equation, that is, the human capital aspect.” The report brings to the fore the importance of embracing or investing in the younger generation for maximum economic derivatives.
The education sector was one of the major movers of the 2019 budget. In line with Education Sector Strategy Plan (2016-2020), which is in support of SDG goal 4 and the aspiration of the Paris Declaration on Education, which targets allocation of 20% of the National Budget, Government allocated US$1.51 billion towards education.
Announcing the education allocation Prof Mthuli said “the focus should, therefore, extend beyond education career prospects to skills development, that way tackling inequality and promoting social mobility and growth.” A well informed skills development programme links education to the requirements of industry thereby narrowing down unemployment rates. Over the years Zimbabwe has been producing graduates whose skills do not speak to the requirements of the industry.
Additionally the New Dispensation has in the last 12 months invested in the mechanization of irrigation schemes nationwide. As part of greater efforts to modernize agriculture and at the same time promoting irrigation, Government has so far distributed 80 centre pivots from Spain to a number of farmers across the country.
Similarly, top on Ministry of Agriculture’s agenda is the rehabilitation of dilapidated irrigation systems and ensuring that all water bodies in the country were fully utilised for the benefit of the country.
ARDA Estates have not disappointed either. Under the leadership of Basil Nyabadza as ARDA Board Chair, the state parastatal has seen the estate recording above 80 per cent capacity utilisation of its prime land creating massive economic opportunities.
Speaking during the report on “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend in Zimbabwe,” Prof Ncube further asserted that Agriculture is key to providing youths with jobs, arguing that thousands of them can be absorbed into the sector.
“What we need to do is provide them with skills, tools and capital and that is very key. So agriculture alongside other sector shall be very critical in making the most of the youth dividend,” Prof Ncube reportedly said.
To complement the modernisation of agriculture the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development has set aside about US$200 million of which half of it has been directed to the rehabilitation of roads in the rural provinces.
To use Prof Ncube’s words, the work Government is doing indeed speaks to its commitment towards tackling inequality and promoting social mobility and growth as Zimbabwe gears to claim its place under the sun.