Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
INDONESIAN Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Zambia, Ambassador Dewa Juniarta Sastrawan, has called for increased support towards small to medium enterprises (SMEs) saying the sector has a huge potential to transform the country’s economy.
Amb Sastrawan said Indonesia once faced economic challenges similar to what Zimbabwe is going through but managed to fully recover after government championed a five-year plan that capacitated budding businesses.
“We had a similar situation when we had a crisis in the 1990s and we had a roadmap to reform, which is similar to what Zimbabwe has now.
“Our economic growth was minus 13 and our currency depreciated from US$1:3 000 to US$1:20 000,” he said.
“We did economic reforms and the SMEs were the main group supporting our economy. Our roadmap contributed to economic growth as government bailed out companies and supported SMEs to export.
“After five years the economy started growing and since 2004 the economy started to be positive and now, we have stable growth of between 5 and 6 percent.”
Amb Sastrawan was speaking at the recent South Africa-Zambia and Zimbabwe Infrastructure Summit and Expo that was held in Victoria. He said the Indonesian exchange rate against the US$ had now fallen from US$1:20 000 to US$1:13 000 as the economy keeps growing positively.
“The SMEs have been the backbone of the economy as this has seen growth of home industry supported by technology. The SMEs are exporting and are supported by the financial sector, which offers credit for business finance,” he said.
Amb Sastrawan, however, said the Asian country did not have the parallel market whose speculative rates are causing suffering of the general populace in Zimbabwe.
He pledged his country’s support to Zimbabwe in infrastructure projects as the country forges towards the 4th industrial revolution powered by information communication technologies (ICTs).
The ambassador said companies from the Asian country were ready to visit Zimbabwe to prospect for opportunities.
Participants at the summit implored Government to mobilise domestic investment to spearhead infrastructure development through ICTs. They also implored pension funds to participate in capital projects. The conference was held under the theme: “Infrastructure key to economic growth and shared prosperity.” — @ncubeleon