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Digitise economy for economic transformation, Zim urged

Willard Manungo

CHINA has urged Zimbabwe to digitise its economy in order to enhance economic transformation after Africa lost over US$90 billion and experiencing an economic recession during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the opening of the China-Zimbabwe Economic Reform and Transformation virtual training workshop yesterday in Harare, China’s deputy director-general for International Co-operation Centre of National Development and Reform Commission, Chang Hao said the digital economy is pivotal for global economic development and restructuring.

“The estimated economic loss to Africa is as high as US$99 billion as a result of the pandemic and the continent started to experience its first economic recession 25 years ago. In the post- COVID-19 era, a new growth engine must be identified to realise fast economic recovery in Africa,” Hao said.

He said in order to enhance economic co-operation between China and Africa, there was need to invest on digital infrastructure.

“First enhance China-Africa Co-operation, and both sides shall seize the opportunities.  Jointly develop the Digital Silk Road, extend the scope of, and enhance the level of the digital economy, and facilitate the comprehensive development of the digital economy.  The second and third points are digital enhancement co-operation, and to optimise and enhance the digital infrastructure, and to strengthen talent development and education co-operation,” he said.

“The global influence of the COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasised the importance of the digital economy. Developing a digital economy will facilitate Africa’s efforts in poverty alleviation and economic development shift and even can have significant implications for Africa’s participation in globalisation.”

Hao said the co-operation could include sending talented young African students or professionals to China for digital economy education programmes, or training organised by research institutions, universities and social organisations.

Deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet Willard Manungo said government was banking on China to attain its Vision 2030 target of an upper-middle-income society.

“In 2015, China and Zimbabwe signed various agreements in energy, agriculture, mining, infrastructure and tourism. This framework is one of the ways envisaged to catapult the country towards the attainment of Vision 2030 of empowered and upper middle income society learning from the Chinese experience,” Manungo said.

He said the online workshop would assist participants to appreciate the information and technology application industry and development of a digital economy in China, and also to learn from the experiences of China’s poverty alleviation initiatives through use of digital tools.

“This training programme is one of our government’s efforts to augment production capacity and attract foreign and domestic investments through the creation of competitive development strategies under special economic zones,” Manungo said.

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