Last year when we were working on the provincial branding for Manicaland everyone would agree that Manicaland is a rich province but we couldn’t find one thing that defines the province or that stand out tops (excluding diamond, tea, and timber). One of the provincial directors in the minister’s office jokily said if we close the Manicaland borders, Zimbabwe will suffer. To a certain extent, it’s true, considering Manicaland is the only province with 5 ecological regions in Zimbabwe (any crop can be grown in Manicaland), has vast mineral resources (diamond, gold) and the Eastern Highlands (Tourism). Packaging the whole lot should make it easy for Manicaland to attract investment, tourist, and capital into the province increasing its GDP. What really makes the province is a sum of parts from all the economic activities and devolution done right can position the Province as the economic powerhouse in Zimbabwe & Africa.
Manicaland needs a strong team Manicaland that is dedicated 24/7 to the development of the province. A team that is not absorbed in politics and can work on the economics of the province and packs it for investment. Most investors are excited by numbers, currently what is the GDP of the province, what is the unemployment rate, how many people visit the province, how much investment get into the province per year, who is doing what and what, the profiles of businesses working the province. Investment goes where it is most attracted, and numbers attract & excites investors. It is not enough telling the world of the opportunities in Manicaland without quantifying them. Yes, we know the province has vast resources but how are they assessed and exploited. We need to put things down.
Team Manicaland should be composed of young people who can crunch the numbers and make the numbers make sense to make Manicaland accessible and exploitable. This must be the first thing the devolution should do, setting up a Manicaland office to accommodate and unpack Manicaland to people who want to invest and visit the province. If you are a visitor in Manicaland you will be lost, the web is also of little help on information about the province. The office can also have information on projects proposal, companies that need capital injection & restructure and infrastructure opportunities.
Rural Infrastructure Development
A large part of Manicaland is rural and that is where most economic activities(mining, tourism, and agriculture) are happening. Despite contributing immensely to the provincial economy these rural areas have accessibility & connectivity problems, poor infrastructure and lack of simple organization. Poor road networks, electricity problems, and telecommunication problems affect the key tourism areas, which is too much for a province that wants an airport to attract tourist to the region.
The backbone of a successful economy is its infrastructure and human capital. Devolution should be able to plug this gap in infrastructure and make rural areas accessible to markets, investment and more tourist. Meaningful investment should able to build industries in those areas, for example, Associated Foods, Tanganda, and the Eastern Highlands estates have established factories in the rural areas. This is only possible if the areas are accessible.
Mutare is the provincial capital of Manicaland and it just needs to wake up! To be continued…