20 March 2017

Zimbabwe: President in Mauritius for Economic Summit

Mauritius — President Mugabe arrived here yesterday to join other African leaders attending the inaugural African Economic Platform Summit that opens today.He was welcomed at the Ramgoolam International Airport by the Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and other senior Government officials.

Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the Acting President.

President Mugabe was seen off at the Harare International Airport by Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, Min ister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Miriam Chikukwa, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Chris Mushohwe, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Edgar Mbwembwe, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, service chiefs and other senior Government officials.

The AEP is a brainchild of the African Union that provides a stage for frank engagements between African Heads of State and Government, captains of industry and academics on the future of the continent.

AEP was formally launched at the 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016 and it also seeks to mobilise alternative resources towards the achievement of the continental developmental blueprint, Agenda 2063.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi told The Herald that the Mauritian summit was a high level meeting that seeks to come up with implementation strategies for continental economic growth.

The summit, he said, was important as Agenda 2063 was pioneered by President Mugabe during his tenure as the African Union and Sadc chairman and in many respects, the continental blueprint resonated with the country's Zim-Asset.

"Africa has embarked on an economic blueprint, Agenda 2063 that was pioneered by His Excellency the President during his tenure as AU and Sadc chairman," he said.

The first 10-year-plan of the Agenda 2063 was also adopted during President Mugabe's tenure.

As part of the implementation of this continental economic blueprint, it has been decided to establish the Africa Economic Platform which brings together Governments, the private sector, academia and the civil society.

"Agenda 2063, just like our Zim-Asset, cannot be achieved by Governments alone. It has to involve all these other stakeholders.

This is an important forum because it is a framework for implementation of Agenda 2063, and as you know, our Zim-Asset is integrated with this continental blueprint.

"This is what Africa decided to focus on during the first 10 years of Agenda 2063. During the first 10 years, Africa decides to focus on infrastructure, particularly transport and energy, especially hydro power.

"On energy, the continent is focusing on Inga Dam in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has the potential to provide electricity to the entire continent and perhaps with a surplus to export to other continents.

"Africa is focusing on rail and air transport with a view to integrate our airlines. The idea now is to see how we can consolidate our airlines for the benefit of the entire continent," he said.

Among other things, the AEP summit would seek to establish multi-country and multi-sector priorities for common action with clear mechanisms for follow ups and remove policy obstacles for doing business in Africa, increasing the investment attractiveness of the continent and implementation of strategies for economic diversification and industrialisation.

Larger parts of Africa's population do not consider agriculture as a serious business with only two percent of the students in tertiary institutions specialising in that area.

Another robust discussion would be on how Africa could add value to its resources.

It was noted that there are a few graduates taking part in the extractive and beneficiation sector and the discussion resonates with Zimbabwe's STEM programme.

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