Failing to Compete
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Failing to Compete

Technology Development and Technology Systems in Africa

Sanjaya Lall and Carlo Pietrobelli

This unique study draws on extensive fieldwork assessing technology systems in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe in the context of their export competitiveness. Its emphasis is on the role of technology systems in building industrial competitiveness and in this it finds deficiencies in the systems in all these countries, though there are also significant differences between them. Comparisons are made with more successful economies, particularly those of East Asia, and policy implications are drawn for the strengthening of technology support systems. Central to the book is its combination of academic analysis with a strong policy focus – policy implications are drawn for each case-study country.
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Chapter 7: Zimbabwe

Technology Development and Technology Systems in Africa

Sanjaya Lall and Carlo Pietrobelli


Zimbabwe is the most industrialized economy in SSA after South Africa. It launched industrial development earlier than most other African countries, and during UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence, when a white government was subjected to sanctions that cut the country off from trade with Europe and the USA) it pushed industry into making products that could no longer be imported. As a result, by independence (1980), Zimbabwe had a relatively deep and diverse industrial sector, with considerable capabilities in engineering and intermediate products. In this, it displayed significantly higher levels of technological capability than all the other countries in the sample. After some time, it undertook a series of structural adjustment programmes that started to expose industry to global competitive forces. The impact of adjustment was not, on the whole, beneficial, though it is difficult to distinguish this impact from the effects of other economic and policy variables (note, however, that this chapter uses information collected in 1997, well before the current political crisis caused by the takeover of farms). Over the 1980s, Zimbabwean GDP grew at 3.2 per cent and manufacturing at 3.4 per cent per annum. The policy regime was still highly inwardoriented, continuing largely intact the controls of the UDI period. Manufactured exports grew by only 2.8 per cent per annum during 1981-90, while ‘pure’ manufactured exports (defined in Zimbabwe to exclude sugar, cotton lint, ferrochrome and iron and steel) grew at 5.1 per cent. There were two sub-periods: 1981-86 and 1986-90. Export performance was much poorer...

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