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AfDB rallies support for Zimbabwe debt solution

by Staff reporter
15 Dec 2022 at 00:21hrs | Views
When the African Development Bank (AfDB) president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, speaks on the effects of devastating economic sanctions slapped on Zimbabwe over two decades ago by Britain and her western allies over bilateral disputes, the world should listen.

Dr Adesina is a technocrat, not a politician and whatever he says about Zimbabwe is backed by empirical evidence.

He was elected AfDB president in 2015 by the Bank's Board of Governors at its Annual Meetings in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and took office at the bank's headquarters in Abidjan on September 1 the same year.

The AfDB comprises three entities: a development bank, a development fund, and a trust fund. AfDB membership totals 81 countries: 54 regional (African) and 27 non-regional countries.

So, being at the helm of the AfDB for the last seven years, Dr Adesina is the most qualified international technocrat to authoritatively and without bias, speak on the way the sanctions have throttled Zimbabwe.

The embargoes have scuttled all the country's efforts to remain afloat in a world where the success of a nation somewhat hinges on sound bilateral relations and its ability to attract foreign direct investment.

When Dr Adesina accepted the challenging task of spearheading the debt restructuring process (amounting to US$14 billion) for Zimbabwe owed to the Pari Club, there is no doubt the man knew a lot that the world should know about what the sanctions have done to Zimbabwe. The bulk of Zimbabwe's foreign debt is already in arrears and constraining efforts  by the country to obtain affordable long term external financing, stifling faster economic growth and development.

He knows the potential revenues that Zimbabwe has lost that some put at over US$100 billion over the last two decades.  In this humongous task, Dr Adesina will be assisted by former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano.

And on the sidelines of the Organisation of the African Caribbean Pacific (OACP) held in the Angolan capital, Luanda last week, President Mnangagwa had a private conversation with Dr Adesina, who after the summit went straight to the United States to attend the US-Africa Summit.

"On the sidelines (of OACP), we discussed with (Dr Akinwimu) Adesina's team. We appointed Dr Adesina, the President of AfDB, as our champion of rescheduling our debt with the Paris Club. He is being assisted by former President (Joachim) Chissano. We drew up a framework during the discussions on how the matter is going to continue," President Mnangagwa told journalists on arrival at the Robert Mugabe International Airport.

But what becomes more intriguing is the manner in which Dr Adesina accepted the challenge and how he unequivocally expresses himself in regional and international forums how the sanctions have affected Zimbabwe.

Addressing delegates to the 10th Summit of the OACP in Angola last week, Dr Adesina, said African Continental Free Trade Area will not be complete without a revived Zimbabwe.

"I am delighted to join hands and work with President Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe together with the former President of Mozambique, Joachim Chissano, to initiate an arrears clearance process for Zimbabwe. I request strong support from Sadc and all Heads of States in Africa.  Together we are stronger."

Zimbabwe is in unsustainable debt levels and longstanding arrears to international financial institutions (IFIs) and this limits the country's potential for growth. External debt is estimated at 76 percent of GDP in 2022. Over 70 percent of the debt is in arrears, constraining the access to concessional finance needed to support productive investment.

In August Zimbabwe's Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube announced in August the country was planning to begin payments to Paris Club creditors.

The Paris Club is a group of officials from major creditor countries whose role is to find coordinated and sustainable solutions to the payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries.

The club's permanent members include the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Norway, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Australia and Italy.

Since Zimbabwe has been under sanctions for the past two decades and having no signs for their removal, President Mnangagwa recently told the nation to stop complaining about the impact of Western sanctions on the country and instead focus on creatively leveraging available human and natural resources to steer growth and development.

"We must also have a solution in the area of beneficiation and value addition. We must have solutions in the area of the types of skills that must be taught in our institutions.

"Recently, I had a meeting with the vice-chancellors (of universities) and the heads of institutions and we all agreed that the teaching, the content of teaching in our institutions, should talk to what we must do, what industry needs, what the farmer needs, what the communities need to grow and develop.

"We cannot just have institutions which are academic and just continue being academic without addressing and looking at what the needs of society are.

"So, whatever we are doing, we agreed with the minister responsible for higher education that our curriculum should now be structured so as to talk to the needs of society. So, across the board, that's what we must now endeavour to achieve."

If this vision is pursued and if the country fights corruption, sanctions or no sanctions the sky will be the limit for Zimbabwe.

Source - The Herald
More on: #AfDB, #Debt, #Zimbabwe