Linking exports to Vision 2030 and sustainable development agenda
Zimbabwe’s economic development agenda is clear on its target, that is, attaining upper middle-income status by 2030.
To attain this, the Vision 2030 championed by President Mnangagwa’s Government addresses key issues aimed at improving livelihoods and eradicating poverty in the country.
Pursuant to Vision 2030, the Government developed the National Development Strategy (NDS1) in line with the aspirations contained in United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Explaining the linkages between Vision 2030 and the global development agenda, President Mnangagwa is on record that “Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 directly addresses the aspirations highlighted by the by the SDGs and Agenda 2063 and seeks a development path which leaves no one behind”.
With no doubt, the integration of all communities in export business will make it easy to attain the targets set under Vision 2030 and SDGs.
This is because foreign currency generation, through export business, will eradicate poverty and improve the livelihoods of all people in Zimbabwe.
What is important is perhaps taking a closer look at how integration of all communities into export business will contribute towards attainment of Vision 2030 and SDGs.
Ending poverty, hunger and improving livelihoods through exports
The National Development Strategy, launched in 2019 by President Mnangagwa, notes that exports remain “the most sustainable source of foreign currency and important driver for economic growth and development”.
Here, exports contribute more towards ending hunger, eradicate poverty and improve livelihoods.
For example, earning foreign currency makes it easy for rural communities to build infrastructure that are compatible with modern lifestyles.
This explains why the ZimTrade, the national trade development and promotion organization, has prioritized integration of rural communities and smallholder farmers into mainstream export business.
The target is to unlock direct market access for previously marginalized communities where they will earn more foreign currency.
Current activities undertaken by ZimTrade to integrate rural communities into export business include the organic certification of pineapples production by Ndiyadzo farmers.
Once certified, the participating rural farmers will earn a premium price on the export market.
The recently launched national garlic and ginger export project, which is targeting to intensify production of the export product will also increase foreign currency earnings by rural communities, which will contribute towards improving livelihoods and earning hunger.
Therefore, in line with the devolution agenda, rural communities across all provinces in the country must identify areas that they enjoy competitive and comparative advantage and use these vantage points to develop into hubs for production and exporting of unique products and services.
Reducing inequalities and empowering women
Globally, financial inclusion has been identified as having huge potential to address some of the key challenges that have for long suffocated economic development.
The participation of women in key production and value-chain process is a pre-requisite for growing exports, which already has been identified as a key enabler of attaining Vision 2030.
For example, women’s access to economic activities, including export businesses, will make it possible for them to contribute more towards the development of the country.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) notes that women play a major role in the global economy because they “invest more in their families than men do, in areas such as education, health and nutrition, creating a secure foundation for the future of their families and communities.”
Considering this contribution, ITC concludes that “empowering women economically, especially through their involvement in trade, creates job opportunities for everyone.”
There is a general assumption that export business is a male dominated industry and efforts must be channeled to change this misconception.
What is crucial now is to ensure that actual opportunities are made available to women, particularly around economic areas such as production, manufacturing, and value-addition.
Women-led businesses should also utilize current programmes being implemented to integrate them into export business.
For example, ZimTrade – together with the Netherlands Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe Agricultural Development Trust, Hivos and PUM – launched the Food for Export Masterclass (FEM) last year to help accelerate access to foreign markets by women-led businesses.
The FEM programme is designed to build capacity of 20 female entrepreneurs in various aspects of horticulture, dairy production, food processing, and food export business, targeting to transform them into successful exporters using the latest production and business methods.
This is one of the many programmes currently underway to help address the economic and gender gap that women-led business should not shy from.
Further to this, integration of young people into export business will improve their export earnings and address some of the current challenges such as drug abuse.
Unlocking potential in young people
Like required for women, youth-led businesses must participate in key programmes that will enhance their contribution to key national economic activities, amongst them exports.
These activities will help young people transform their creative ideas into successful business plans.
For example, the Eagles Nest Youth Export Incubation Programme, launched by ZimTrade last year is helping to bridge the knowledge gap by bring together different stakeholders to support and nurture youth led businesses across Zimbabwe into viable export ready companies.
One of the key intervention areas of the programme is capacity building, which will create more benefits, including direct and indirect job creation and the development of human capital and new skills.
As the examples listed here are just a highlight of how exports can help attain Vision 2030 and SDGs, efforts must be channeled towards creating an enabling environment to do business.
For example, export procedures must be streamlined to make sure that foreign markets are easily accessible even to the rural communities.
Other related requirements for exports, such as documentation and permit procedures, must be also be made easily accessible across the country, to facilitate smooth movement of export products from point of production to the market.