Gunning for success with Brazil

Ambassador Marcia Maro da Silva
\nZimbabwe and Brazil established diplomatic relations as soon as the Southern African nation became Independent and in 1987, we opened an embassy in Harare. Our excellent bilateral relations are based on mutual respect and co-operation. What we are now aiming for is to increase our economic relationship, seeing how we can attract Brazilian investment to Zimbabwe.

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Brazil has a strong presence in Africa with over US$27 billion invested on the continent; some of those investors should be attracted to Zimbabwe. There are business opportunities here – we would like to see Brazilian companies participating.  On the other hand, we are trying to increase co-operation.

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Recently, we materialised the programme More Food for Africa, whose main goal is to provide food security and help small-scale farmers move forward as they increase productivity through mechanisation.

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The programme is worth US$98 million, US$38 million has already arrived from Brazil in the form of equipment to be used exclusively by smallholder farmers.

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This will benefit 22 000 families in nine provinces of the country.  We are trying to replicate a programme here that was very successful in Brazil in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty.  In 20 years, Brazil managed to bring 40 million people out of poverty.

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We, therefore, have every reason to believe that we can replicate the same programme here and reach the same goals.
\nThrough mechanisation and right procedures, assistance from extension services and new technologies, we can improve our productivity and conquer areas previously considered not good enough for agriculture.

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We have done that in Central Brazil.
\nIt has the same kind of soil and climate as Zimbabwe and many other parts of Africa.  Initially, people thought it would not be good for agriculture, but we proved them wrong.  Geologists say Africa and Brazil – in fact, South America – were linked, so there are a lot of similarities in soils and climate.

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Through mechanisation, irrigation and better techniques, it’s possible to increase productivity even in areas that are usually affected by drought.

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More Food for Africa
\nSenegal, Mozambique and Ghana will be the next (beneficiaries), but Zimbabwe was the first to really materialise the programme.
\nThe equipment is already here.

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I have heard that places like Binga have already received the equipment and farmers there will start cultivation using this equipment.
\nZimbabwe was the first because both the Zimbabwe and Brazil sides worked really hard, and also because of the importance we attach to our bilateral co-operation.

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We achieved all requirements and got our equipment here. Mechanisation and better techniques can enable the country to face drought and climate change.  Zimbabwe has to restore its irrigation programme, ensuring energy and water are available. This brings us to the problem of infrastructure.

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There is no way agriculture can develop if you don’t have investments in infrastructure and energy generation.
\nThere is no irrigation without energy and water, it’s combined.

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The Zimbabwe Government is much aware of that and those are priority areas. I understand that will be addressed in Zim-Asset.

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New Development Bank
\nIf you look into the international system, there isn’t enough financing and there aren’t sufficient credit lines to fund the investment and infrastructure needs of Africa and the entire globe. So, Brics countries thought it necessary to complement efforts by the World Bank and other multi-lateral financing institutions to provide credit lines, mainly to developing countries. That was the main goal when we decided to create the New Development Bank. In that sense, Africa can benefit through access to credit lines.

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It’s one more alternative to what is already in place, that is other multi-lateral financial institutions. It’s one more alternative to credit lines to finance investment and infrastructure.

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The bank is almost operational.
\nIt is headquartered in Shanghai, China and its first head is an Indian citizen, Kundapur Vaman Kamath. I believe the bank will soon be operational and countries can start presenting projects.

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South-South Co-operation
\nThere are mainly two essential aspects here. First is technology transfer. It is in the policy of countries of the South to transfer technology.
\nIn the case of ethanol, Zimbabwe has the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant. It is 100 percent Brazilian technology – we transfer that technology.
\nIt’s not something that you buy, but teach and transfer, meaning if you want to replicate it in other areas of the country, you would be able to.
\nThat’s very important.

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Another aspect is that our co-operation is demand-oriented. The beneficiary country states what it wants from the co-operation, the areas in which the country needs to be empowered or developed. That’s another important aspect. It’s not countries giving you what they consider best for you or what is in their best interests. This is the beneficiary country dictating the agenda, saying, “What is important to me? What would I like to receive?” I think the perspective is different.

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In terms of trade, we are more of competitors in terms of what you produce – commodities and agricultural products. This means we have to work together and we have been doing that at international fora in a way that (ensures) we have better conditions for our products on the international market.

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UN Democratisation
\nBrazil believes it’s time to update the institutions of the Bretton Woods that were created after the Second World War in a way that reflects present realities of countries. We are not in the same world that we had in 1948. Many other countries emerged and their voices must be heard. Not only countries that have emerged, but areas that are not represented in the (United Nations) Security Council, but whose people are affected by decisions of the Security Council.  In the case of Africa, for instance, between 52 and 54 countries and you don’t even have a seat.

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Latin America is the same. From South of the United States, there is no country representative there. On the other hand, you have two European countries sitting there – France and the United Kingdom. Does it reflect the reality of where we live? Is it acceptable?

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Those countries must be more democratic and give voice to other areas of the globe. That’s why we defend the updating and expansion of the Security Council.

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The Future
\nAfrica is an absolute priority for Brazilian foreign policy. It’s not only rhetoric. As I’ve mentioned, Brazil is highly invested in Africa; the volume of our investment on the continent is just behind Latin America. Brazil is the second biggest nation in terms of African population, we are just behind Nigeria. Our population is 200 million people and 60 percent of our population is of African descent, bringing us to 120 million people of African descent.

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So, it’s very easy for us to work on the African continent.  In cultural terms, it’s very easy for us to operate here in the same way that Africans feel at home when they go to Brazil. Africa is a priority. We are committed to its development and are prepared to do our part in that process for mutual benefit. Africa is undergoing great transformation and Brazil wants to be part of it.

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Ambassador Marcia Maro da Silva is Brazil’s chief diplomat in Zimbabwe. This article is taken from her interview with The Sunday Mail Senior Reporter Lincoln Towindo in Harare last week