The Sunday Mail
Unity, innovation and deepening intra-African trade has the potential to counteract the impact of Western sanctions on Zimbabwe, Ethiopia Civil Service Commission chairperson Dr Mekuria Haile has said.
He said this at the recent ninth edition of Public Service Day commemorations held in Victoria Falls.
Participants agreed to adopt new technology, eliminate trade barriers among African countries and end dependency on former colonisers.
“We no longer need to focus on the economic sanctions imposed on countries like Zimbabwe.
“Zimbabwe is doing great in food production, wheat and cattle. The import substitution on wheat is due to good interventions by the Government,” said Dr Haile.
“Once you are successful in increasing and improving agricultural productivity, and achieving food self-sufficiency, those issues from foreign influences can be managed.”
The continent, Dr Haile said, has immense potential to engage Western countries as equal partners.
“We should focus on what benefits us, utilising our natural resources — water and good climate. We need to encourage young people to be in the public service, engaging in high-value production.
“Once we reach that level of competitiveness, using our comparative advantages of land and other natural resources, they will negotiate with us,” he said.
“Currently, the United States of America is negotiating with China on how to exchange services and goods.”
Mr Richard Phungwayo, the under-secretary in the Ministry of Public Service in the Kingdom of Eswatini, said African governments should move away from colonial education systems that do not encourage innovation.
“The discussion should start with our education curriculum. We are still using the old colonial systems that teach us to just remember things instead of being innovative.
“We have not industrialised enough to do all our manufacturing internally. That is why we produce raw goods and export them.
“This is an area where we need to up our game and capacitate our public service so that we become more competitive,” he said.
Service Commissions chairperson Dr Vincent Hungwe said for the AfCFTA to be successful, productivity should be enhanced at the local level.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area is reminding us that for us to attain and sustain the required economic progress through trade, there is need to master new technologies, innovation, including digitalisation, in order to foster productivity and competitiveness, both in terms of service and product quality and price, especially as we seek to interface with a complex, globalised and unforgiving world trade environment,” he said.
Public Service Day is celebrated annually on June 23 and bi-annually at continental level to recognise the significance of the public service.
The Continental Africa Public Service Day has been celebrated in Namibia (2007), Tanzania (2009 and 2011), Ghana (2013), Congo Brazzaville (2015), Rwanda (2017) and Kenya (2019).
In 2021, Zimbabwe hosted the eight edition of the commemorations in Victoria Falls.
However, since the 2021 commemorations were held under strict Covid-19 protocols.
Zimbabwe was afforded the opportunity to host the 2023 edition.
The event ran under the theme “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) will require a fit for purpose African public administration to succeed”.