President Robert Mugabe’s comments that Zimbabwe was the next most advanced country after South Africa caused a lot of debate in social media and other social circles. The president admitted that the country was facing economic challenges nonetheless.
Today, it is not easy for Zimbabweans and other observers to agree with Mugabe prima facie. It would take a deep analysis not jingoism, for some to eventually realise that he may not have been way off the mark depending on the perspective from which one is looking at.
Modern-day judgment of the level of development is based on statistics and country data. When one looks at the data and statistics, Zimbabwe would in no way be near South Africa in terms of development. For it to be considered to be close to South Africa, then one has to go way back in time towards Rhodesia or in the early Zimbabwe for such a judgment to be near-accurate as far as statistical data is concerned.
Parasuraman, a famous research methods author, once said figures lie and liars figure. Be that as it may, we have to rely on some form of measure for us to draw comparison between one country and the other.
In recent times, multinational companies that have a footprint in Africa have tended to divide their operations into South Africa and “Rest of Africa”. This description is meant to help the organisations manage their operations effectively by geographical segments.
In many cases, South Africa tends to be larger, in business terms, than the rest of Africa or it tends to be a very significant business that requires attention separate from that of the rest of Africa. The geographical definition into African businesses of the multinational entities has also gone a long way in showing that South Africa is more advanced than the rest of Africa.
According to the World Bank, a low income economy is defined by gross national income of less or equal to US$1 025, while a lower middle-income economy has gross national income of between US$1 026 and US$4 035. An upper middle-income economy would range between US$4 036 and US$12 475, while any country with income beyond US$12 476 would qualify as a high-income economy. These figures apply to the fiscal year 2017 and are based on the 2015 gross national income levels. Using this classification, Zimbabwe is in the league of Malawi, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo and the newest country in the world, South Sudan, which is in the middle of a conflict, among others. Ghana and Zambia are in the lower middle-income economies.