Country Background

  • Zimbabwe has a land area of 390,000 km2 and a population of 10.4 million according to the census report, December 1992. The estimated 1996 population stands at 12.0 million. The population growth rate is 3.14%. Sixty seven percent of the inhabitants live in rural areas mainly as farmers and 33% live in urban area. This is based on the last census in 1992, and the rates are gradually shifting towards more and more people getting urbanised, as can also be seen from the respective growth rates given as 3.9% for urban while that of rural areas is 1.8%.

  • GDP in 1990, the base year for previous studies on climate change, was Z$ 4 144 million at factor cost in constant 1980 dollars. GDP growth rate has remained positive but declined from 14% (nominal, 11% real) in 1980 to 2% (real) in 1990/91. Overall GDP is expected to grow at 4.6% from its current value of about Z$5530 million (1980 dollars) during the next five years starting 1996 according to the country's Second Five Year National Development Plan.

  • Zimbabwe's economy is led by activities in manufacturing and agriculture. The manufacturing sectors produces 6000 different products, contributes 25% to GDP and employs 17% of the total employed labour force. Activities in this sector are based on processing agricultural and mining products. Agriculture is the largest employer of labour but contributes only 12% to GDP. Its tobacco subsector, however, is the leading source of foreign currency followed by mining. Commercial agriculture is mainly practised on large scale commercial farms that are predominantly located on the Plateau (over 1500m amsl.) and are characterised by high energy intensity.

  • The successful agricultural sector has, however, become threatened by persistent droughts. For example, in 1992 the country experienced the worst drought episode in living memory. Because of the linkages between agriculture and the rest of the economy, this drought resulted in serious negative ripple effects throughout the economy including manufacturing and the financial sector.

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