By Nevson Mpofu
MEFMI is Macro and Economic Financial Management Institute for Eastern and Southern Africa . It is a Regional Financial and Economic organization .It frames out Economic policies, promote and support economic development in the SADC Region .It is working to grapple with challenges currently facing the Region.
MEFMI is targeting Infrastructure development .The most effective tool MEFMI applies according to its Director- Dr Sehliselo Mpofu in addressing challenges is Research and Policy development.
Policy stands vital in providing a platform for dialogue and exchange of knowledge. In search of related solutions to existing and related challenges emerging, qualitative Research is the most important tool to use .The main reason why it is looking at the policy issue is to support Economic growth and reduce poverty.
Economic development in any part of the Region can be promoted through ‘’financing for development’’. Such is the theme for 2018.
‘’Our Annual Research and Policy Seminar came to success as a result of reviewers and discussants of the research papers who accepted partnership with us’’ .
‘’MEFMI stands for economic development to reduce poverty through employment creation in the Region. The most pressing thing is the Region is facing challenges which at the moment can reverse Economic Development ’’.
‘’For MEFMI, development is a goal which can be achieved through ‘financing for development’ a multi-dimensional process which supports economic growth and reduce poverty’’, she said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor John Mangundya is optimistic economic development can be achieved if challenges facing the Region are simply addressed .Growth must be called sustainable. It means that it must continue along the same lines into the future without creating economic problems.
‘’In order to address these, we need to come out with policy action, foster dialogue and knowledge exchange through dialogue in strong partnership of Member states. Value Addition to development strategies crafted is vital so as to adopt policies at Regional level.’’
‘’Like what MEFMI takes as an objective in its work , we need to identify points of stable sustainable resource flows . We then adequately allocate these resources in the areas of greatest need so that we can achieve economic growth and reduce poverty ‘’
Experts agree with DR John Mangundya’s points related to the coming in of fresh challenges which deter economic growth and increase poverty. Strengthening the link between Research and Policy make us enhance strategic mechanisms which are important in crafting new ideas. Results based management related to Investment opportunities, smarter aid and partnerships which attract finance are a value addition in macro-economic development.
‘’Emerging challenges need fresh unlocking ideas. Therefore we need to strengthen link between Research and Policy and enhance strategic mechanisms to identify policy priorities and create a conducive atmosphere for basically three areas , Investments , smarter aid and financing partnerships’’ he concluded .
Countries in the Region must remain focused on development. Development is made possible through research. As a region, countries through the promotion of multi oriented quality research come out with goals to address the economy. Outcome of economic development resolve social problems.
MEFMI’s goal settles on sustainable economic growth as echoed by the African Union Agenda 2063 goal of ‘’Transformed Economies’’ .When countries of Africa talk of ‘’Transformed ECONOMIES’’ we are basically focusing on Economic Structuring. ‘’
Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations launched in 2015 after the Millennium Development Goals of 2000 under which Goal 8 was on Achieving Global Partnership for Economic Development is similar to MEFMI’s call for comprehensive approach involving multiple stakeholders of sustainable development .
Under sustainable development , partners work amass resources, channel these resources towards coming with production through finance injection , smart aid and Foreign Investments which bring economic growth .African countries are talking of poverty reduction through economic and social transformation under robust social and economic research for policy development .
A Development Expert from Lesotho, Selloane Khoabane on his presentation on Infrastructure development, said the Inter-Regional Infrastructure Master Plan and the Private-Public Partnerships are vital since nearly us$428 billion is needed in the Region to balance Infrastructural development, develop the Economy and reduce poverty in the 15 MEFMI member states.
‘’It is on onus of Governments of the region to follow on the Master Plan.’’
‘’Without plan follow-up , we have no direction on the whole discussion , let us make a way forward to push for Infrastructural and Economic Development’’ , he said .
McKinsey Global Institute highlights that Africa achieved average Annual Gross Domestic Product growth of 5,4% between 2000 and 2010 . Research findings after the growth’s decline by 3,3% between 2010 and 2015 reveal that the region continued to face economic challenges arising from population growth , lack of sustainable projects implementation contributing to economic poverty .
Another Economic Expert, Dr Nyasha Mahonye sited other factors trampling down economic growth in the African region.
‘’The region continues to face lower commodity prices, tight financing conditions and droughts. Sustainable growth improvements will depend on viable and innovative development strategies and the interaction of these strategies at Global level’’, said the leading Economist.
Adding to the point Leonard Mandishara an Economist said policy measures should target resources diversification. In diversification, the continent gets engaged in economic activities through Regional co-operation.
‘’The future of the continent in economic growth and the impact of poverty reduction depends on policies aimed at economic and structural transformation. These must be policies of Regional co-operation and technological advance so as to encourage innovation .Our challenge in the region and Africa as a whole is Finance. However despite strong links, structures competition in the region fosters Regional growth through good management of Financial innovation ’’ , he pointed out .
The 2008 Financial crisis is an example of mismanagement of Financial Innovation mainly because of weaknesses in regulatory system .MEFMI is pursuing Financial Development Regulatory policies which enhance competition according to a presentation by a Zambian national, Chiselwebwe Ngandwe .
The indicator shows Swaziland as having highest level of competition in 2014 followed by Zambia, Angola, Lesotho and Mozambique.
”The fact is, financial sector competition indicators are yet to incorporate non- bank players.”
”We are living in a new era in demand of quality service. Competition is good for functioning of financial intermediaries and markets and improved access to finance, ’said the Economist.
SADC Report of the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan indicated that the Region has got an Infrastructure deficit in roads, air, rail, pipeline Infrastructure, water, Information Communication Technology and Energy Infrastructure since financing lacks in some parts of the Region.
Cresencia Gapare said Infrastructure is important to easily access International markets resources development, Investments and concessional loans. Regional cohesion serves an option of financing social and economic development. This enlarges local markets after the pooling of risk .The stimulation of Production, Trade and Investments is value addition to Africa’s economy.
The challenge Africa faces currently is, it needs 93 billion for Infrastructural Development. On its own SADC with 17 countries needs almost a quarter of it if not more.’’
‘’The spirit to develop needs multi-dimensions in Economic funding. This can only be possible through partnerships, funding, human resources expertise and the role of the International Monetary Fund. However this Economic cohesion with the International Community. In other words, Global Partnerships will definitely reduce for us poverty. We first experience Industrialization both in urban, farm, mining and rural communities’’, she ended .’’
MEFMI works with 14 countries in the SADC Region to support Research and Policy development for the region‘s economic growth .This is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.