By Alois Vinga
WHILE it is unfortunate that the ongoing economic reforms are causing hardships among Zimbabweans, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration must not back down World Bank’s (WB) senior economist, Stella Ilieva said Wednesday.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Business on the sidelines of the bi-annual regional economic outlook, Africa’s pulse report launch, Ilieva acknowledged the existence of social problems created by the ongoing reforms but maintained it was the only solution to save the country.
“Poverty and food insecurity has increased in the country and currently two thirds of the population are in need of food aid. At the same time rural poverty has worsened and the austerity measures are affecting the plight of the poor.
“However it remains important to realign the economy on a stability trajectory and the administration must forcefully continue with the implementation policies aimed to achieve the much needed stability,” Illieva said.
She said from 2017 when Mnangagwa took charge, poverty levels in the country increased from 29 % to the current 39%.
The World Bank economist added Mnangagwa was on the right path when asked if she thought the reform being implemented by Harare will extricate the country from the crisis.
“They are the right reforms only if they are being implemented according to plan,” she said.
Meanwhile, the recently launched 20th edition of Africa’s Pulse said growth in Sub-Saharan Africa remained slow through 2019, hampered by persistent uncertainty in the global economy and the slow pace of domestic reforms.
Overall growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise to 2.6% in 2019 from 2.5% in 2018, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than the April forecast.
World Bank vice president for Africa Hafez Ghanem, said African economies need to make deliberate choices to empower women.
“Empowering women will help boost growth. African policy makers face an important choice business as usual or deliberate steps toward a more inclusive economy.
“After several years of slower-than-expected growth, closing the opportunity gap for women by removing barriers to their economic participation is the best way forward,” said a forcefully carry on the implementation of reforms in order to achieve the required macro-economic stability,” Ghanem said
The report observes sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world in which women are more likely to be entrepreneurs than men.
It however added that African women contribute the greater share of agricultural labor across the continent.
“However, this success is stifled by large and persistent earnings gaps between men and women. Women farmers in sub-Saharan Africa produce 33 percent less per hectare of land than men do, and female entrepreneurs or business owners earn 34% less profits than male business owners,” the report showed.