Zimbabwean communal areas cover around 16.4 million hectares of land and is blessed with a diversified base of natural resources. This makes it an under-explored area full of entrepreneurial opportunities that can greatly contribute to rural and national development. When one thinks of investing in a rural business, they should think long term and sustainability. It seems to be overshadowed with challenges, but those challenges have no match with the available opportunities. Let us unveil the potential of the Zimbabwean Rural Area.
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Tourist arrivals into Zimbabwe are reaching 2,579,974 in 2018 and The National Parks visits causing around 957,752 visits. This shows a great potential of Rural Tourism. A vast number of National Parks in Zimbabwe are located in the rural areas and this calls for more private players in Rural Tourism. There is always something intriguing about one’s rural area. This may be special species of wildlife, thick forests, amazing water bodies and a unique culture to mention a few. There should be found a way of harnessing it. As rural tourism grows, it also comes with increasing demands in accommodation. World class rural accommodation structure is the way to go.
Most of the Zimbabwean Rural Communities are Agro-Based. The Zimbabwean rural population has been growing from 2015, a 1.7% increase in 2016, 1.56% increase in 2017, a 1.46% in 2018 and 1.43% in 2019 (www.macrotrends.net), in 2018, it constituted around 67.79% of the total population. However, the communal area population doesn’t easily access and understand some of the modern agro-based technologies and the potential of Agri-business. As a result, they mostly do agriculture for subsistence purposes. The rural areas also have a notable number of water bodies capable of irrigating some farm areas. The rural community needs to be empowered with modern skills, knowledge and resources so as to maximize land productivity. Have you ever thought of a model of having out growers in the rural area, providing them with the necessary skills and resources then sell their produce online directly to the consumer on their behalf? After the produce has been sold one takes their profit share and the farmer his own share and continuously sustain the idea.
Renewable Energy Potentials
Most of the Zimbabwean Communal Areas have no access to ZESA supplied electricity. Over 80 % of the population mainly living in rural areas uses firewood for cooking, lighting and heating purposes. Coal (12%) and electricity (13%) are the other two main energy sources which provide energy supply (RECIPES 2006). This leaves a great potential for solar energy, biomass and or hydro energy. The Rural Area has an underrated potential to build and sustain its own economy. The rural areas of Zimbabwe receives a favorable solar radiation capable to generate sufficient energy to power up main activities and for residential use as well. Remember the rural area is an agro-based community that means a great potential for biogas electricity generation. There is potential for small-hydro across the country, estimated at 120 MW (Reegle, 2014), apart from the large hydro power plants. Most of them must be in the rural communities since water bodies in the urban areas have been destroyed.
Mining has turned out to be the core activity of the Zimbabwean economy. This has seen a number of rural communities being relocated, for example, the Chiadzwa case. In these rural areas there are a number of minerals that are found in them and these can be profitably mined without affecting the residents. Here are some Mining facts, “… every Zimbabwean District has some gold deposits. The Mberengwa District, being locally governed by Mberengwa Rural District Council, holds confirmed deposit of Asbestos, Beryl, Chromium, Corundum, Emerald, Iron, Lead, Limestone, Magnetite, Manganese, Talc, Tantalum and Tungsten.” I will end here.
Health care in rural areas is compromised, patients have to walk long distances so as to access a poorly developed and managed local clinic, later to be referred to the nearest hospital which will turn out to be far away. Waiting for an ambulance to come and carry the sick is not always viable, may have sought to requesting assistance from fellow village men. Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems therefore there is a problem that needs the attention of entrepreneurs. The rural community has an economy capable of sustaining itself. There are cash shortages but there is an abundance of resources such as farm produce, livestock to mention a few. Barter trade still applies to the state of the rural educational system.