The Sunday Mail
Chris Chenga Open Economy
Would a single citizen existing in isolation need to have an ID card? Perhaps an identity for oneself is only as relevant as one exists amongst others.
Consider how we define ourselves as citizens; it is a derivative of father, mother and village of origin. Identity as a unique individual is defined reflective of the existence of others.
Identity is not vacuous.
Identity of one is a definition within, and an acknowledgement of existence amongst others. The global economy brings similar realisation to unique individual states crafting their own economic identity.
A nation state cannot foist an economic identity without a definition within the global economy, and acknowledging the existential circumstances of other economies. Quite often in developing nations, there is intellectual encouragement to pursue local solutions for local problems.
There is a search for local innovation to circumvent or collapse local socio-economic obstacles. This endogenous narrative is not necessarily misguided, but without careful discretion, it can be misleading to developing nations.
We cannot entirely craft localised socio-economic perspectives and find them suffice to our socio-economic development. Socio-economic modernity demands global consciousness, especially in defining self as a nation state.
Consider, for instance, how it has caught on within certain governmental, business and civic demographics to define our current economic landscape as the “new SME economy”.
This is an ideology largely influenced by the lessened presence of multi-national conglomerates in the economy; logically instilling a localised image of our economic landscape of smaller medium-sized enterprises.
If the definition of “new SME economy” was to find credence, then perhaps the new economy’s difficulty to sustain traction is that there lacks any definitive reference of these SMEs to a global, let alone regional context.
If, indeed, SMEs are the new economy, how do they relate to a globalised economy?
Maybe structurally, the new SME economy is struggling to compete with exogenous circumstances of production efficiency, economies of scale, terms of trade and foreign market penetration; all because this new SME economy has not been acutely defined to its global identity and further critiqued as to whether or not such an economy can sustain existence within global realities. Consider sectors of light SME product or service orientation.
Just last week in New Zealand, the New Zealand Chamber of Commerce faced strong criticism for a lack of serious funding towards local media newsrooms that are losing viewership numbers to global platforms such as Facebook, Periscope and Twitter.
Through exogenous circumstances, local SMEs in that country have become constrained in their viability.
Similar introspection is needed in Zimbabwe where local digitisation, estimated to create thousands of jobs and economic value, is in existential contestation with global digital platforms in terms of content distribution, monetisation and viewership traffic.
Policy assumption is that expanding local broadcasting infrastructure will be economic stimulus for a SME heavy content production sector.
However, similar to New Zealand, a localised interpretation of such policy denies the more influential exogenous impact in the media sector.
Local policy, like broadcast digitisation, can no longer be defined outside of a globalisation context. In Germany, an economic stratum called the “Mittelstand” is an SME segment of its economy.
However, operations of product or services are of an export strategy. More simply, the German SME sector is defined within a globalisation context.
As such, the nation sustains a balance of payments surplus and retains all the necessary structural competitiveness for its local industry. In coherence with a growing SME sector, Zimbabwe has emphasised heavy industry leveraged on natural resource extraction and processing.
We should obviously consider the valuation of commodities in global markets that go through cycles. Indeed, a nation’s resources cannot simply be exploited to satisfy localised demand and downstream socio-economic developmental goals.
Within a nation state’s resource discourse, globalisation is mandatory, if not the determining context itself. This column recently emphasised comparative advantages in crafting competitive national industrial and commercial strategy.
The fundamental logic behind comparative advantage is a country having a consciousness of others as a pre-condition to defining its own potential and competitiveness.
So, when we ask ourselves which sectors, resources or economic stratum we should leverage our economy on, we must be informed on the outlook of a much greater global economy.
Whatever strategic direction we craft, it is inherently going to be of a globalisation context.
We cannot define self without acknowledging existence of others.