Afrex­im­bank: Zim’s all-weather friend

The Manica Post - - Comment & Feedback -

THE African Ex­port-Im­port Bank (Afrex­im­bank), which this week ex­tended a $1,5 bil­lion eco­nomic sta­bil­i­sa­tion fund to the Gov­ern­ment of Zim­babwe, should be com­mended for dis­tin­guish­ing it­self as an all-weather friend.

Afrex­im­bank has been the only in­ter­na­tional lender that stood by Zim­babwe through­out the chal­leng­ing times. But its quick an­nounce­ment of a fresh pack­age of loans is no doubt a vote of con­fi­dence in Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s new Gov­ern­ment.

In­deed, the Cairo-based in­ter­na­tional bank has been the ma­jor fun­der of Zim­babwe while the coun­try was cut off from the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and World Bank for hav­ing de­faulted on its debt in 1999.

The $1,5 bil­lion fa­cil­ity could not have come at a more ap­pro­pri­ate time as fund­ing is what Zim­babwe needs largely, es­pe­cially on the back of the new po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic dis­pen­sa­tion, which has seen Fi­nance and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa tabling a pru­dent eco­nomic roadmap in his 2018 Bud­get State­ment.

This is hap­pen­ing on the back of a solid con­fi­dence build­ing foun­da­tion laid by Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa in his in­au­gu­ral speech, in which he promised a num­ber of pol­icy changes aimed at bring­ing san­ity in the coun­try.

Chief among th­ese were the need to at­tract both lo­cal and for­eign in­vest­ment and re­form­ing the way of do­ing busi­ness.

The Pres­i­dent’s speech, which wooed not only Zim­bab­weans but also the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, was fol­lowed up by walk­ing the talk.

In walk­ing the talk the new ad­min­is­tra­tion has a leaner Cab­i­net and has pre­sented a pos­i­tive Bud­get, which has in­stilled con­fi­dence, and ease of do­ing busi­ness will con­tinue to be one of Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s top pri­or­i­ties.

The Cab­i­net re­jig has been care­fully strate­gised with an aim to im­part fresh im­pe­tus to the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment process.

Over­all, the di­rec­tion of the reshuf­fled Cab­i­net in­spires con­fi­dence that the path of re­forms and timely im­ple­men­ta­tion will con­tinue to be top pri­or­ity.

We be­lieve Zim­babwe has struck the right chord and will fit well in Afrex­im­bank’s cur­rent strat­egy, which fo­cuses on in­tra-African trade; in­dus­tral­i­sa­tion and ex­port de­vel­op­ment; and trade fi­nance lead­er­ship.

The $1,5 bil­lion fa­cil­ity should there­fore en­able the coun­try to bridge the sig­nif­i­cant fi­nanc­ing gap con­fronting the pro­duc­tive sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, which re­quires fund­ing for re­tool­ing and im­por­ta­tion of key raw ma­te­ri­als.

It is our ut­most hope that this timely re­sponse to the ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances that de­manded ur­gent and de­ci­sive largescale sup­port should en­sure that Zim­babwe’s pro­duc­tive sec­tor is back on the rails.

We look for­ward to start see­ing Zim­babwe draw­ing from the sta­bil­i­sa­tion fund to cover fer­tiliser man­u­fac­tur­ing firms, where an acute short­age of fer­tilis­ers is im­pact­ing on the farm­ing sea­son. Other in­dus­tries that need ur­gent at­ten­tion in­clude cook­ing oil com­pa­nies, fuel im­porters and the min­ing sec­tor, which needs new equip­ment.

We trust that other in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions will take a cue from Afrex­im­bank and ex­tend sim­i­lar fund­ing fa­cil­i­ties that will go a long way in help­ing trans­form the coun­try’s econ­omy and cre­ate the much needed jobs.

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