By Josiah Dimbo : Denmark and DANIDA is back in Zimbabwe. Denmark has resumed a more active role in its engagement with Zimbabwe and is one of the five largest bilateral donors. Recently Josiah Dimbo(JD)a freelance journalist based in Zimbabwe caught up with Mr.Ketil Karlsen (KK) Charge d’Affaires of The Royal Danish Embassy and had a chat with him pertaining bilateral relations between Denmark and Zimbabwe and projects being undertaken by DANIDA in Zimbabwe.
(JD) Good day Sir , would you please tell us the role of DANIDA in Zimbabwe.
(KK)We fuel development and democratic processes! Our goal is to help ordinary Zimbabweans to a better life, while also supporting the transition process to a stable democracy with a vibrant economy.
(JD) DANIDA is now back how much has it donated to Zimbabwe in 2011?
(KK)We have committed a total of 43 million USD to Zimbabwe in 2011.
(JD) What are your key areas of support?
(KK) DANIDA provides significant support for development and democratization in Zimbabwe. Our main focus in on private sector driven development of the agricultural sector, rehabilitation of power and water supply and support for human rights and democracy.
Examples of our support include the establishment of CREATE – credit for agriculture and trade expansion – that provides training and favorable credit for small scale farmers and others in the agricultural sector. Another example is support for a stronger and more independent judiciary. DANIDA has furthermore been actively involved in the provision of text books for all primary school children.
(JD) Would you give us specific examples of your rehabilitation of water and power supply projects.
(KK) Together with other donors we provide support for the rehabilitation of the Hwange power plant carefully taking into consideration environmental concerns. Water and sanitation project are supported in major cities, including Harare, Chitungwiza, Mutare, Chegutu, Maswingo and Kwekwe.
(JD) What are your views on good governance, democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe?
(KK) Strong democratic institutions, good governance and respect for human rights must be the foundation for the future Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe have rights founded in universal international agreements that constitute milestones for the democratic transition process in the country.
(JD) Education and Health are the two pillars of sustainable development-How is DANIDA involved in these two critical sectors in Zimbabwe.
(KK)DANIDA has supported provision of text books for all primary school children and also provided initial salary for health staff to reestablish basic health services after the crisis situation around 2008. More recently, DANIDA has decided to focus around the above described areas to create maximum impact
(JD) Zimbabwe has a huge potential waiting to be released-What sectors do you encourage investors from your country to invest in?
(KK) There is a growing interest in Zimbabwe amongst Danish companies and investors. Denmark has a long tradition in agro-business, medicine and transportation. These are some of the sectors where possible cooperation could take place. However, there continue to be uncertainties around the framework for making business in Zimbabwe, which makes some investors think twice.
(JD) How ICTs have helped Denmark and what is your advice on tapping on ICTs?
(KK) Information Technology is a vital platform for the development of Zimbabwe. The country must take a leap into the modern world and make use of the tools available. Making sure that information is made widely available and that access is given to capacity building is a key challenge.
(JD) How is Denmark assisting the transition process and the implementing of the GPA?
(KK) The GPA is a framework for a national process. We can only assist. In that context, Denmark is one of the main donors to the Constitution making process. Also, Denmark has provided support for JOMIC and for ZEC.
(JD) What is your take on sanctions , elections and the land reform in Zimbabwe?
(KK) We stand ready to keep the measures under constant review and to reconsider them in response to concrete progress in the implementation of the GPA, including steps in the preparation for credible and peaceful elections.
The Zimbabwean people have a right to elect their leaders. I give great importance to the implementation of reforms that will ensure this. Having credible elections free of violence is a fundamental priority for Zimbabwe and we stand ready to assist.
We have always supported fair and transparent land reform that would benefit all the people of Zimbabwe and allow continued productivity.
(JD) What is your focus on the coming year (2012) in terms of relations between Denmark and Zimbabwe?
(KK) We plan to strengthen relations further! We now start planning for the next phase of DANIDA support to Zimbabwe and expect to increase development assistance.