Tuesday, December 6

Countries

Zimbabwe’s decades old inflation has been worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war. Inflation in Zimbabwe remains one of the highest globally and the only country in Southern Africa with headline inflation above 50 per cent.

Prior to the war, rising inflation in Zimbabwe, low foreign direct investments, unsustainable foreign debt levels and corruption were among a plethora of problems plaguing Zimbabwe’s economy.

Zimbabwe’s economic problems started surfacing in 1997 when the regime of the late Robert Mugabe paid unbudgeted pensions to veterans of the country’s 1970s liberation war, leading to a currency collapse. The situation got worse in 1999 when Zimbabwe sent its troops to fight in Democratic Republic of Congo civil war that also drew armies from Uganda, Rwanda and Angola. A violent land reform programme that displaced nearly 5,000 commercial farmers, precipitating the crisis. Disputed elections and human rights violations led to the country’s economic isolation, which has taken a serious toll on the economy.

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The new administration under President William Ruto, is striving to set the economy in the right tempo having inherited a heavily indebted government.

Through debt restructuring among other key economic reforms, Ruto’s administration is committed to quell inflation and create a thriving economy for all Kenyans.

The recently published East Africa Economic Outlook report, indicates that Kenya is among the countries in the region that could face rising risks of debt distress, thus widening fiscal and current account deficits, largely due to structural weaknesses exacerbated by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

According to the 2022 African Economic Outlook (AEO), by AfDB inflation is projected to edge up to 7 per cent, close to the upper end of the target band at 7.5 per cent, caused by greater energy and food inflation. The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), reported that the country’s inflation rate as of October 2022 stood at 9.6%, creeping up 0.4% from September’s all time high of 9.2%.

Libya’s economy has been teetering on the edge of a precipice since the ousting and killing of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, as part of the protests that marked the Arab Spring. Once a progressive economy now a war-torn country, a playground for foreign powers rushing to satisfy their own interests, has left ordinary Libyan citizens to bear the brunt of a cycle of conflicts and civil wars, stagnating economic growth for a decade. The conflict birthed an unmatched refugee crisis, with thousands crossing the Mediterranean to seek greener pastures in Europe. Today’s Libya remains in electoral limbo as the political stalemate persists. Prospects for elections fade daily.

The situation in the country remains extremely volatile, rife with political uncertainty as to when a national government will be formed, and the formulation of a constitution thereof. Both presidential and parliamentary elections, slated to be held this year have been postponed several times with no exact date set.

The country awash with violent non-state actors where different militia groups vie for political power are being backed by foreign entities in a bid to control the country’s oil and gas sector. As the first anniversary of the postponed elections draws nigh, there is no clear end in sight. The UN Special Representative Abdoulaye Bathily, warned against prolonging the interim period as Libya could become even more vulnerable to political, economic and security instability, as well as risk of partition.

Namibia has made progress on structural changes to foster economic diversification and boost productivity. Improving the business environment, promoting access to capital, improving governance, and decreasing skills mismatches are crucial for stimulating growth and achieving long-term debt sustainability.

Sierra Leone’s government may have to impose severe austerity measures.  These measures will address inefficiencies and inadequacies in allocating and administrating public resources. However, all hands must be on deck within these economic management measures. This will secure the ring-fencing of money for essential objectives like education, livelihood preservation, and health. These objectives remain critical to maintaining social stability and a rapid return to the economic recovery path.

The reason farmers are forced to buy seeds is that projects like AGRA take away traditional organic seeds by giving subsidized GMO seeds, which cannot be replanted hence after harvest, the farmers must buy new batches of seeds to replant the next season.

In effect, forcing the farmers to rely on new purchases of seeds every year means the peasants are unwittingly caught in a cycle of dependency and poverty, for that matter.

Worse still, projects like AGRA that claims to introduce ‘modern agriculture technologies’ focus on using chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides and also push for monoculture, which locks the farmers in the dependency cycle; they have to buy more fertilizers to keep their lands productive, and they have to buy the same pesticides because of monoculture.

It is for such reasons that last year, AFSA released an open letter with over 200 signatories alleging that AGRA did not increase the productivity or incomes of farmers nor did it reduce food insecurity.

A recent index report showed that Tanzania’s agro sector is mechanizing rapidly on the back drop of value addition mini-factories, the revolution is not unique to Tanzania, it is happening continent wide and North Africa is leading.

Evidence to this fact lies in the pages of the Africa Industrialization Index (AII) report that show more than 35 of Africa’s 52 countries have become more industrialized over the span of the last decade.

The multi-stakeholder report, prepared by the African Development Bank, the African Union and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), attests to an ongoing industrial revolution in Africa.

The Africa Industrialization Index (AII) uses 19 indicators to rate each country’s level of industrialization ranging from performance of its manufacturing sector, capital, labor to a country’s business environment, its infrastructure and even its entire macroeconomic status.

As countries and entire regions react to the global pandemic by seeking to strengthen their resilience, they will, on one hand, cut dependence on sourcing  or at least diversify their sources and on the other hand, improve their own responsiveness to demand.

That is where agriculture technology comes in, because what is bound to happen is shorter supply chains will emerge and Africa food security will be undermined.

The continent, while prioritizing transport infrastructure will do well by investing in human resource development and agriculture technology to diversify Africa food sources and Africa food security. The future is in automation, so if a country has the needed human resource it can invest in developing value chains tended by a more technical labour working its agriculture technology.

To build Africa food security, the huge population of Africa youth can offer great competition to the rest of the world if it is educated to meet the global technical needs as ever more intangibles hubs form.