Zimbabwe Economics and Business


The years immediately following the country’s independence (1980) were characterized by very rapid economic growth. This is largely explained by the fact that the sanctions aimed at the country during the civil war were lifted and that, as a result, the rapidly increasing foreign trade brought a strong stimulus to the economy. Growth, however, was unevenly distributed, and the development in the agricultural sector was characterized by strong fluctuations due to drought and fluctuating world market prices for the most important forage crops. The country’s good resources on natural resources, its relatively well-developed infrastructure for African conditions and its varied industrial sector provided initial financial stability. This made it possible to manage the price fluctuations of the world market.

However, around the middle and second half of the 1980s, economic development changed, and growth shifted into declining and stagnant growth rates, which in 1991 led the country to introduce an Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) with the aim of liberalizing the economy and increasing the role of the private sector. The economic development during the 1990s was shaky. Rising debts, together with budget deficits, laid the foundation for the deep crisis of the 21st century with rising unemployment, rising living costs and lower real incomes. Tourism has declined dramatically, and some foreign companies have left the country. In 2001, occupations were followed by occupations by companies in the cities owned by whites and foreigners. In the years that followed, food prices rose in avalanche due to galloping inflation, and gasoline rationing was introduced. Although many areas were starving, the government refused to allow international organizations to distribute food and was accused of refusing to provide food to people suspected of supporting the opposition party MDC.

Since the division of power came into being, the IMF has agreed to grant loans to Zimbabwe, and in 2009 it was officially allowed to trade US dollars, which caused inflation to fall to a normal level. The Zimbabwean economy is now growing again.

In 2015, the country abolished the Zimbabwean dollar as currency and instead used a number of international currencies as a means of payment.

  • According to AllCityPopulation, the capital city of Zimbabwe is Harare with a population of 1,521,000 (estimate 2019). Other major cities include Bulawayo with a population of 653,000, Chitungwiza with a population of 356,000, Bribe with a population of 187,000, Gweru with a population of 157,000 (2012 Census).


Zimbabwe has an extensive and varied agricultural sector. Of the total labor force, 2/3 derive their income from agriculture. The most notable thing about the country’s agricultural sector is the big differences between commercial agriculture and the more self-sustaining.

In 1990, commercial agriculture controlled 40 percent of the agricultural land and produced 80 percent of the country’s forage crops. In the same year, a land redistribution law was introduced that allows the state to expropriate agricultural land in the commercial sector. For a long time, commercial agriculture was dominated by approximately 4,000 mainly white farmers and small agricultural companies, but through a fiercely enforced land reform, the number of large farms has decreased dramatically and amounted to about 600 in 2003. The purpose of the reform was to redistribute land and break up the large estates. in smaller units. Corruption and lack of knowledge, tools and resources of the new users have made the result so far not the desired one.

The most important food crop is corn; Due to drought, production has varied greatly. Other important food crops are mainly wheat and barley, but also millet, sorghum, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower seeds and beans. The most important forage crops are tobacco, cotton and sugar. The quality of the country’s tobacco is very high, and the tobacco has often been sold at very favorable prices on the world market. Zimbabwe is one of the few countries in Africa allowed to export meat to the EU.


The uneven population distribution in the country creates severe pressure on available resources in the most densely populated areas. This applies not least to forest resources, and several densely populated areas are under acute deforestation threat with consequent soil destruction risks. In low-rainfall areas, deforestation poses a risk of increased dehydration and, in the worst case, desertification. The majority of the timber is used for firewood.


Zimbabwe is rich in minerals, and the mining industry has long been an important part of the country’s economy. However, since the late 1990s, the sector has declined in importance, and the mining industry now accounts for only about 2 percent of the country’s GDP. Currently, mainly gold, nickel, platinum, asbestos, coal, copper, chrome, iron ore, tin, silver, diamonds, emeralds, graphite, lithium, granite and cobalt are mined. Gold is most important from an income point of view and accounts for up to half of the mining production’s sales value. In 1989, a gold refinery was opened in Harare. This reduces the country’s dependence on South Africa, which was previously the only country in Africa where gold could be refined.

Nickel is second most important from a value point of view, but due to falling world market prices, nickel production has declined in recent years. With the exception of coal, which is extracted in the southwest, the deposits are mainly found in the middle part of the country. In this area, in addition to already exploited deposits, there are significant amounts of platinum.


Compared to many other African countries, Zimbabwe’s industrial sector is relatively well developed and is responsible for a wide range of industrial products for both domestic consumption and exports. The sector accounts for about 10 percent of employment. While the industry plays an important role in the country’s economy, it has had major growth problems in the internal as well as the external market. The reasons for this are partly the neighboring countries’ lack of foreign currency for import of industrial products, and partly the large cuts in the allocation of foreign currency for import of necessary raw materials to the Zimbabwean industry.

Foreign competition and domestic demand in the domestic market led to a decline in the industrial sector during the 1990s. Economic reforms in recent years have received a positive reception, but recent political and economic concerns have hit industry hard.

Zimbabwe GDP (Nominal, $USD) 2003-2017

  • COUNTRYAAH: Find major trading partners of Zimbabwe, including major exports and major imports with latest trade value and market share as well as growth rate.

Foreign trade

From an African perspective, the country has an unusually varied export sector where no commodity is the completely dominant export product. The most important export commodities are cotton, tobacco, gold and platinum. Other important export products are iron alloys, nickel, asbestos, copper and iron and steel beams. Imports are dominated by machinery and transport equipment. The main beneficiaries of exports are the neighboring countries and the United Arab Emirates. Of the import value, South Africa and China account for the majority.

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