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Time for US to reset relations with Zimbabwe

27 Jan 2021 at 06:03hrs | Views
THERE is no better time for the United States to reset relations with a foreign country than at the change of administration.

While US President Joe Biden will no doubt have a busy agenda, a key priority should be how to re-engage with sub-Saharan Africa.

The good news is that it's already something about which the president has given a great deal of thought.

Africa's role in global affairs is only going to grow in the coming decades, given that by 2050, Africa will account for 25% of the world's population.

In a report last year, McKinsey predicted US$5,6 trillion in African business opportunities by 2025. While risks remain, statistics such as these highlight the major opportunities awaiting potential investors in Africa.

No African country is in more need of a reset with the United States than Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe-US relations have been strained ever since the administration of George W Bush imposed sanctions on former President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle nearly 20 years ago.

Sanctions were extended in March 2020, with the US accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government of cracking down on opposition figures and failing to implement the reforms he promised when he came to power in late 2017.

But missing the opportunity to re-engage with Zimbabwe would be a mistake at both the diplomatic and economic level.

The country's leaders are frustrated that there are no clear targets for it to meet to gain acceptance by the West.

Lack of dialogue risks pushing Zimbabwe further into China and Russia's spheres of influence.

It would be a mistake for the Biden-led administration to overlook Zimbabwe as a partner in the region, not least because of the strategic and economic opportunities available to American companies.

Zimbabwe has all the ingredients to prosper — untapped human capital with one of Africa's highest literacy rates, a rich mineral base and some of the best conditions for farming on the continent.

Zimbabwe is said to be among the most richly-mineralised countries on the planet. It is among the top 10 producers of lithium, the essential ingredient in the batteries that power the technology of the new industrial revolution.

The true scale of Zimbabwe's mineral wealth is one of the last great unknowns in the extractive sector, with large deposits of gold, chromium, coal, tin, copper and natural gas yet to be fully explored.

Source - newsday
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