Ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment key to fi­nan­cial free­dom

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Mor­ris Mpala

AF­TER hav­ing vis­ited ru­ral ar­eas in the past months I just re­alised that money is in the ru­ral ar­eas and we can do some­thing about it.

MoB Cap­i­tal was part of a re­search team on ru­ral sus­tain­abil­ity in the ru­ral pop­u­lace with pri­mary in­ves­ti­ga­tion on women/youth’s role in fi­nan­cial free­dom vis-a-vis in­fra­struc­ture.

It’s a fal­lacy that money is res­i­dent in our towns and ci­ties. Ev­ery­thing we are con­sum­ing is ru­ral. Agri­cul­ture pro­duce is be­ing done in ru­ral ar­eas not in ur­ban ar­eas. Even good cul­ture of Ubuntu is ru­ral.

The ma­jor­ity of pop­u­lace is in ru­ral set­ups. Re­fresh­ingly cool air is found in ru­ral ar­eas and in abun­dance. Re­search has shown that most prof­itable and loyal clien­tele is in the ru­ral ar­eas. Huge min­ing op­er­a­tions, tourism, so­lar tech­nol­ogy, wind tech­nol­ogy and wa­ter bod­ies are found in ru­ral places. The lat­est gum poles and thatch struc­tures craze is sus­tained by ru­ral ac­tiv­i­ties. Ded­i­cated labour is now ru­ral based or is orig­i­nally ru­ral sourced.

The ur­ban­ites have of late started over­crowd­ing ru­ral pop­u­lace. Then why concentrate in ur­ban ar­eas where no pro­duc­tion is tak­ing place? Why fund the ur­ban ar­eas when ru­ral is the one pro­duc­ing all what we con­sume?

This is what mis­placed pri­or­i­ties do, that is, to be more sym­pa­thetic to ur­ban dwellers than ru­ral dwellers. The irony is that de­spite all that above the ru­ral setup is reel­ing in ab­ject poverty. It is ex­hibit­ing ut­ter painful trau­ma­tis­ing hope­less­ness in fi­nan­cial free­dom quest. That is painful fi­nan­cially, emo­tion­ally and morally and when you visit the ar­eas you can phys­i­cally touch the ab­ject poverty.

The ru­ral setup is fail­ing to take off be­cause of lack of in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ments, which has led to short­com­ings in pro­vid­ing ru­ral fi­nance to ei­ther big or small players.

Rail is by its na­ture cost ef­fec­tive for both mov­ing cargo and hu­man traf­fic. The net­work that is al­ready avail­able has ten­ta­cles all over the coun­try­side to move bulky raw ma­te­ri­als to in­tended des­ti­na­tions. Most of the cargo/raw ma­te­ri­als are ru­ral based. Min­ing and agri­cul­ture is bet­ter suited for rail which is ru­ral based.

Road of­fers con­ve­nience to the ru­ral setup. Whether it’s im­ple­ments or pro­duce they re­quire a good road net­work. This easy ac­cess to mar­kets makes ru­ral firms to be com­pet­i­tive. This ease of move­ment of peo­ple and goods makes pro­vi­sions of goods and ser­vices cost ef­fec­tive and en­cour­ages growth.

Air Cap­i­tal and own­ers of cap­i­tal never ex­isted in com­mu­nal ar­eas. So they have to ac­cess these ru­ral ar­eas in the most ef­fi­cient pos­si­ble way and strate­gic air travel is ad­vis­able. Time is money so air travel be­comes an aide to ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient man­age­ment of ru­ral con­cerns.

Ed­u­ca­tion In or­der to per­form ac­cord­ingly ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties need to be knowl­edge­able and that ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion is vi­tal. Those schools and vo­ca­tional train­ing col­lege/ poly­tech­nics, Agri-col­leges are nec­es­sary to in­crease pro­duc­tion through ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient means. In ad­di­tion profit and losses need to be un­der­stood as ru­ral pro­duc­tion isn’t a char­i­ta­ble case.

Health As em­ploy­ees come, em­ploy­ers’ com­mu­ni­ties are de­pen­dent on their health for fi­nan­cial free­dom. They need these world class health fa­cil­i­ties to re­alise their po­ten­tial. Health and wealth are cor­re­lated. A healthy work­force is an as­set to the ru­ral set up which has to be sup­ported by mod­ern health fa­cil­i­ties that are even pre­ven­ta­tive in na­ture.

Wa­ter A well de­vel­oped wa­ter sys­tem be it for house­hold con­sump­tion or pro­duc­tion re­volved around har­ness­ing this pre­cious com­mod­ity. Bore­holes, ir­ri­ga­tion, dams, re­cy­cling sys­tems are key to sus­tain­ing ru­ral pro­duc­tion. Gone are the days of over reliance on nat­u­ral rain wa­ter when pro­duc­tion has gone this com­mer­cial and this big.

Elec­tric­ity Whether in re­new­able form or oth­er­wise a con­tin­u­ous sup­ply is re­quired. It makes the place hab­it­able and at­tracts skills that would oth­er­wise not come to the re­serves as it were.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Mar­kets should be able to freely com­mu­ni­cate to the com­mu­ni­ties in­volved in pro­duc­tion. And ru­ral setup needs to be abreast with mod­ern ways of pro­duc­tion, mar­ket in­tel­li­gence, and re­search on a real time ba­sis thus ICT is a must for quick so­lu­tions to the com­mu­ni­ca­tions dilemma. It’s a mod­ern day era and com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key to sur­vival.

Fi­nance Of all things the most chal­leng­ing is cap­i­tal. With­out cap­i­tal ev­ery­thing else will grind to a halt. This is the glue that brings ev­ery­thing to­gether. Most re­quire­ments are cap­i­tal bi­ased. The need to have ad­e­quate cap­i­tal is vi­tal. This can be within or with­out fam­ily so as to in­crease ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness. These ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties need cost ef­fec­tive right cap­i­tal to do what has to be done. Make rel­e­vant fi­nance avail­able to these com­mu­ni­ties.

Po­lit­i­cal A well de­vel­oped ru­ral com­mu­nity set up de­con­gests ci­ties and towns and pol­icy mak­ers love this. When we make politi­cians happy they are more will­ing to lis­ten and make favourable poli­cies. Ru­ral strate­gic plan­ning is a win-win to all stake­hold­ers. That is smart part­ner­ship.

Waste man­age­ment The 21st cen­tury is all about en­vi­ron­ment so it is of para­mount im­por­tance that all waste man­age­ment sys­tems take into con­sid­er­a­tion the health of the com­mu­ni­ties in line with world ac­cept­able stan­dards.

With other sys­tems it in­volves a com­plete sys­tem where waste could be used as raw ma­te­ri­als or waste is fed to an­i­mals or plants. Mon­i­tor­ing these en­sures a safe and healthy en­vi­ron­ment to op­er­ate from with­out com­pro­mis­ing pro­duc­tion.

Mon­eti­sa­tion of ru­ral land There is need to mon­e­tise and se­cu­ri­tise the means of pro­duc­tion to un­lock value in these ar­eas. Ti­tle own­er­ship and show­ing com­mu­ni­ties how much they are sit­ting on po­ten­tial will in­crease pro­duc­tion. Make lease agree­ments bank­able, in­crease ti­tle own­er­ship and move away from com­mu­nal own­er­ship es­pe­cially on ar­eas of pro­duc­tion.

Ubuntu ex­hib­ited in these ar­eas im­plies all costs of pro­duc­tion are done in a morally up right man­ner which should be em­u­lated and repli­cated. Small scale farm­ers’ Ubuntu shows a great deal of ex­cel­lent work­man­ship. You trust the prod­ucts/ser­vices and you trust the peo­ple. You just have faith with ru­ral folks

Once all the above are taken care of then it will be easy to of­fer fi­nance to the ru­ral dwellers as in­vestors can see that their re­turns are guar­an­teed.




Mor­ris Mpala is the manag­ing di­rec­tor of MoB Cap­i­tal Lim­ited, a Bu­l­awayo head­quar­tered mi­cro­fi­nance in­sti­tu­tion with foot­print across the coun­try. PLEASE

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