Operationalise National Competitiveness Commission
There are approximately 40 National Competitiveness Councils or Commissions worldwide, including in the United States of America, Egypt, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Brazil and South Korea.
IN THESE countries, some were led by the private sector (USA, Egypt and Croatia) while others by the government (Ireland, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam).
Regardless of who leads, successful councils usually involve stakeholders from government, the private sector, academia and in many cases, trade unions.
Recently, the Government of Zimbabwe gazetted the National Competitiveness Commission Act, which paved way for the establishment of the National Competitiveness Commission (NCC) and the NCC board.
The NCC should contribute directly towards the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
It should identify constraints to productivity and economic growth, recommend practical solutions for these and ensure that these have been developed with inclusive public-private dialogue. This will lead to broad support for the Government’s competitiveness agenda.
At the moment, Zimbabwe ranks lowly across all global ranking agencies such as World Bank doing business report, World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index and Transparency International, etc.
With respect to the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index, Zimbabwe was ranked 124 out 137 countries in 2017. Investors look at these reports before even listening to what we have to say. These global rating agencies showcase to investors which countries are open for business. We need to look at our systems and regulatory environment. Is the environment conducive for good business?
Government is aware of this and hence the fast tracked establishment of the NCC, which is supposed to be a vehicle for removing the obstacles to business.
In our interaction with Government on what could be key objectives of the NCC, we agreed on the following: ◆ To contribute towards increasing Zimbabwe’s productivity; ◆ To remove constraints to growth in specific Zimbabwean industries; ◆ To identify cross-cutting constraints to growth and productivity and provide solutions; ◆ To inform policy-making with fact-driven analysis; and ◆ To enable Zimbabwe to articulate its competitiveness strategy globally. As we work on operationalising the NCC, it is important to bear in mind the underlying values and assumptions of successful commissions. These are: ◆ The ultimate goal for the countries who established Competitiveness Commissions were to establish sustainable prosperity for their respective people. ◆ Sustainable increases in prosperity are based on increases in productivity. However, one has to bear in mind that productivity growth is not only doing things better but doing better things. ◆ Achieving competitiveness is partly a matter of identifying cost drivers of production and seeing where these can be reduced. This is called “doing things better”. Rather, competitiveness means using Zimbabwe’s talents and assets for higher value activities or “doing better things.” ◆ What it means is that the NCC should embrace leaders. Participants in specific industries are in the best position to identify the opportunities for competitiveness as well as the constraints. Involving the private sector (including enterprises, trade unions and experts) in identifying constraints and opportunities is the best way to get the analytics right and to formulate and implement lasting solutions. In most cases, based on best practices, inter-ministerial cooperation and coordination is vital to achieving ambitious economic goals. Beyond just establishing research on cost drivers, identifying opportunities and constrains and addressing them, Zimbabwe, at the right time, need to articulate its competitiveness agenda to the global community through economic dashboards, websites, investment promotion agencies and other vehicles. This will help in addressing negative international perception, which is one of the major causes of uncompetitiveness. Otherwise we will stand to suffer the same fate of a beautiful lady who dresses up in expensive clothes and make-up. She then admires her own reflection in the mirror but stays indoors forever. As a result, she never meets potential suitors and stays single till death!
Dr Mugano is an Author and Expert in Trade and International Finance. He has successfully supervised four Doctorate candidates in the field of Trade and International finance, published over twenty — five articles and book chapters in peer reviewed journals. He is a Research Associate at Nelson Mandela University, Registrar at Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University and Director at Africa Economic Development Strategies. Feedback: Cell: +263 772 541 209. Email: gmugano@ gmail.com.