By Motoki Aoki
Long the pariah in Sub Saharan Africa’s economic integration, Zimbabwe has recently made an effort to re-engage with the global community. In February 2015, the EU lifted its 12-year sanction and resumed aid to Zimbabwe. In June, after a decade-long freeze, an IFC delegation visited Harare to seek ways to reinvigorate Zimbabwe’s private sector and help the country’s economy continue trending upwards after it shrank by nearly 40 percent from 2000 to 2008. After what was essentially a lost decade, leaders in Zimbabwe are now seeking long-term, inexpensive funding for the country’s economy and undercapitalized firms. They have found willing partners in multilateral institutions.
The Political Landscape: The Root of Economic Underperformance
Zimbabwe has rich human capital, characterized by a high adult literacy rate of 86.5 percent. It is the political landscape, however, that Zimbabwean chief financial officers specify is the largest risk to business performance. Recognized as the world’s oldest leader, President Robert Mugabe will run for another term in 2018, when he will be 94 years old. Mugabe’s economic policies have been notoriously inconsistent and unfriendly to FDI. Continue reading
By Daniel F. Runde
Between now and 2050, global population growth and rapid urbanization are expected result in an additional 1.6 billion people in need of electricity. Traditional energy sources based on extractive industries – coal, oil, and gas – will continue to drive the market and satisfy the energy demands of burgeoning populations in the short to medium term. The emerging markets of China and India, for example, account for approximately one-third of the world’s population and will need to exponentially increase imports of cheap energy sources in order to produce electricity for their growing middle classes. Where will these resources be extracted and imported from? Largely from the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples, who live on top of the some of the most biodiverse and resource-rich regions on earth.
Indigenous peoples have suffered marginalization, intimidation, and even displacement at the hands of their national governments and multinational companies in the past. However, this has largely changed for the better as many companies have recognized that the ultimate success of extractive investments depends on local partnerships with indigenous communities. Forward-thinking companies that implement guidelines to include the input and build the capacity of indigenous populations have the opportunity to achieve successful, profitable outcomes that simultaneously meet end-user energy demands and benefit the local populations from where that energy is sourced.
There is undoubtedly a salient financial case for uniting the extractive industry’s objectives for powering the world with corporate practices that promote cultural awareness and local capacity building among indigenous community partners. A participant at a recent CSIS meeting noted that companies that mitigate social risk by partnering with indigenous populations have a 5-6% higher return on investment. Partnerships with these indigenous populations can drive profit, and social and economic development for underserved communities. Failing to partner with indigenous communities, on the other hand, increases the risk that local opposition will impede a project’s success and hurt the company’s bottom line. Continue reading