Zimbabwe Strategic Economic Research and Analysis (SERA)
As part of our work on the USAID-funded SERA project under a subcontract to Nathan Associates, IBI worked with the Zimbabwe Economic Policy and Analysis Unit (ZEPARU) to conduct an in-depth analysis of Zimbabwe’s mining industry. The study provided input on fiscal and budgetary policy for the Ministry of Mines and Minerals, among other ministries. The study recommended that a new Mining Act establish a “use it or lose it” regime for mining licenses. As it was, the law provided perpetual licenses, which gave rise to massive misuse by speculators who filed claims without undertaking any development investments. The study also examined the status of legal efforts to ensure that the government retains rights to an enormous reserve of iron ore resources at Mwenesi, which an investor was claiming under an agreement with another ministry. The government used the study to craft a new Mining Act that incorporated many of the recommendations made by IBI, among them that mineral rights be auctioned through public tender rather than made available on a first-come-first-served basis.
The draft policy also endorsed accession to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and proposed equitable partnerships between local and foreign investors, recognizing current capital, skills and technology constraints within Zimbabwe. The new policy broadened the concept of “value addition” from exploitation of mineral wealth by highlighting the importance of upstream linkages, infrastructure (“side-stream”) linkages and knowledge linkages, and recognizing that downstream linkages (“beneficiation”) should be pursued only where warranted on the basis of feasibility studies that show processing to be economically viable.
Under a cross-cutting component of the project, IBI collected data and conducted interviews in order to understand gender constraints, opportunities, barriers, and lessons in Zimbabwe. The team identified and analyzed gender-related indicators and provided recommendations on integrating gender elements into the SERA Work Plan and Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. The study concluded that although women have contributed substantially to wealth creation in Zimbabwe, their involvement in the economy is mostly confined to the informal sector. Concluding that inconsistent government policy, along with ineffective implementation, limits women’s participation in the formal economy, the study recommended ways in which the SERA project could work with the government of Zimbabwe in reforming the regulatory economic policy framework to enable potential entrepreneurs, especially women, to graduate from small-medium scale enterprises into larger-scale enterprises.