Harare Embarks On New economic Resilience Plan As Covid Bites

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By Staff Reporter

HARARE is embarking on a new economic and financial resilience plan to tackle the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and build its resilience against future shocks.

The plan was formulated and will be implemented with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

It was introduced at a recent multi-stakeholder meeting.

When fully financed and operationalised, it will play a crucial role in building the city’s capacity to shield its economy and financial stability from future crises.

Developed after extensive multi-sectoral consultations and an in-depth diagnostic study, the plan seeks to improve Harare’s labour market, financial system, infrastructure and connectivity, economic governance, and business environment.

According to a diagnostic study undertaken in the city, the pandemic and virus suppression measures adversely affected the economic performance of Harare and the funding for its basic services. Job losses, declines in household income and reductions in productivity were especially pronounced challenges in Harare.

Findings revealed that the contraction of the local economy resulted in a financing gap, stemming from decreased revenues and increased expenditure at the municipal level – underscoring the need to improve the city’s ability to raise and mobilize domestic resources.

Regarding the vulnerabilities, the study recommended that Harare should diversify its economy, establish incubators for informal entrepreneurs, accelerate its digital transformation and improve access to affordable finance. It further called for the expansion of social protection schemes and the upskilling of workers to improve local labour market conditions.

The study also identified the need for setting up a local agency to attract investors to Harare while generating city-level data to facilitate evidence-based planning in service delivery.

Additional proposals included crisis-informed city planning, private sector investments in infrastructure, participatory budgeting processes, and the inclusion of vulnerable groups in resilience-building efforts.

ECA Director Edlam Yemeru said council had lost some two thirds of its revenue as a result of the Covid-19 induced crisis.

“While African cities are the epicentre of the Covid-19 crisis, they are also at the heart of the solution. But their largely unplanned and poorly managed urban development makes cities vulnerable to the risks posed by Covid-19,” Yemeru said.

“As a result, African cities, including Harare, have suffered enormously during the pandemic in the form of employment and household income losses, she added, with local governments losing up to two-thirds of their generated revenues. This crisis is a turning point to rethink how we overcome development deficits in our cities and adopt a forward-looking approach that can better predict, learn from and absorb future shocks,” he said.

“In this regard, Harare’s economic and financial resilience plan offers a holistic framework which the local government can implement to put the city onto a shockproof economic trajectory that works for both its residents and businesses.”

The initiative is plat of a campaign by the United Nations to strengthen capacity of local governments in 16 cities globally on building urban economic resilience in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Acting Mayor Setwart Mutizwa welcomed the development.