For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.
After two consecutive years of recession brought on by the passage of Cyclone Idai and a harsh drought faced in 2019, followed by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, activity in Zimbabwe rebounded in 2021 and continued on an upward trend in 2022, supported by an exceptional agricultural season and a boost in mining activity. Growth reached an estimated 3% GDP in 2022, and it is expected to remain stable at 2.8% in 2023 and 2.9% in 2024, mainly supported by the recovery of the agricultural sector and heightened private consumption.
In 2022, inflation increased to 284.9%, but that rate it is expected to fall to 204.6% in 2023 and 36.1% in 2024. The current account balance recorded a surplus of 0.6% of GDP in 2022, mainly driven by expatriate remittances, which maintain a positive balance on the transfer account. The surplus is expected to remain somewhat stable in 2023 and 2023, at to 0.3% and 0.4%, mainly due to an increase in imports of goods and services in response to the recovery in domestic demand. Despite Zimbabwe's current account surplus, the country's external position is fragile due to low capital inflows. Zimbabwe's debt remains at an unsustainable level due to the accumulation of external arrears and the expansion of domestic debt. According to the IMF, gross government debt represented 92.5% of GDP in 2022, but it should increase to 64.9% in 2022 and 57.5% in 2024. As early as 2018, the authorities had implemented a Transitional Stabilisation Program 2018–20 to restore macroeconomic and monetary balances. Fiscal consolidation measures should contain spending growth and stop the monetisation of the budget deficit. According to the African Development Bank, the country would need 3.4 billion EUR / year for ten years to rebuild its infrastructure, while the arrears held by international organisations limit the country's ability to resort to international aid. One of the country's main challenges is to re-establish a sustainable and credible economic policy in order to reconstruct the country and to offset its high public debt. The banking system is also in need of strengthening. Even though the government implement a series of measures to mitigate the social and economic impact of the pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis put pressure on the country's strained public resources, so recovery has been slow.
The country's social situation is worrying. According to some estimates, the unemployment rate is close to 80%, while other sources state that the actual rate is closer to 15%. Unemployment rate estimates stood at 19% in 2022, according to ZimStat, the country's national statistics agency However, that rate doesn't reflect the income losses from reduced working hours, unpaid leave, and the decrease of opportunities for formal and informal sector activities which was exacerbated by the pandemic, and drove thousands of the poorest people in the country into unemployment, leaving millions Zimbabweans on the brink of starvation. Additionally, the informal economy is widespread and only 5% of workers have formal jobs. Furthermore, epidemics are worsening, mainly HIV / AIDS and cholera, and life expectancy has been steadily declining in recent years, reaching 58.56 in 2017, making it the third country in the lowest life expectancy in the world. Access to education is declining and the failure of land reform has caused the exodus of many farmers. According to the World Bank, more than 70% of the population still lives below the poverty line and the extreme poverty rate rose from 29% in 2018 to nearly half of Zimbabweans in 2020, as the pandemic delivered another economic shock to the country.
|Main Indicators||2020||2021||2022 (E)||2023 (E)||2024 (E)|
|GDP (billions USD)||26.88||35.97||33.02||29.93||26.67|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-7.8||8.5||3.0||2.5||2.6|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||1,770||2,322||2,088||1,852||1,618|
|General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)||84.4||59.8||92.8||102.3||100.0|
|Inflation Rate (%)||557.2||98.5||193.4||172.2||134.6|
|Current Account (billions USD)||0.68||0.35||0.27||0.12||0.20|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||2.5||1.0||0.8||0.4||0.8|
Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data
Note: (e) Estimated Data
Zimbabwe has abundant natural resources including diamond, gold, coal, iron ore, nickel, copper, lithium, tin, and platinum. Diamond, gold and platinum have been the most economically significant natural resources produced in Zimbabwe. Even though the country is rich in resources, only around 10% of the land is arable. Agriculture represents 8.8% of GDP and employs 66.2% of the population (World Bank). The agricultural sector is dominated by tobacco production, which is the country’s second source of foreign currencies. Other agricultural exports include maize, cotton, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts, sheep, goats, and pigs. Zimbabwe's economy depends heavily on its mining and agriculture sectors. While agriculture remains vulnerable to climate shocks in the country, the sector experienced a significant growth in 2022, and recorded the highest wheat harvest in 56 years.
The mining industry dominates the industrial sector. In 2013, the EU completely lifted its embargo on Zimbabwe's diamond industry. Other industrial products include steel, wood, chemicals, cement, fertiliser, clothing, footwear, foodstuffs, and beverages. Industry represents 28.8% of the GDP and employs 6.6% of the workforce. The overall slow growth of mining and manufacturing sectors reflects a difficult business environment, characterised by high inflation, tight financing conditions, and continuation of forex retention policies, which increase the costs of doing business and prevent the mining sector from capitalising on higher global prices for minerals. Industrial activity saw a slight growth in 2022, particularly in the mining and energy sectors.
Services, which represents 56.6% of the GDP, employs 27.2% of the workforce and are highly reliant on tourism, given that the country enjoys a number of tourist sites of global significance. The construction and financial sectors also play a role in the Zimbabwe economy. Although the services sector showed a rebound in 2021, the impacts of the pandemic and the country's economic volatility will continue to weigh on its prospects in the short term. Tourism levels saw continued on a gradual recovery course in 2022, a trend which is expected to continue in the coming years.
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||66.2||6.6||27.2|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||8.8||28.8||56.6|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||17.5||6.4||7.7|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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|American Dollar - accepted in the context of the multi-currency framework (USD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR||0.03||1.63|
Source: World Bank - Latest available data.
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The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.
The Zimbabwean Government is generally open to foreign trade, which accounts for 30.6% of its GDP, according to the latest World Bank estimates. In the context of economic and regional integration, the country has strengthened its ties with the SADC (Southern African Development Community) member countries and levies lower duties on imports from such countries. However, the strict control on trade exercised by the Government and the relatively high customs duties, make the country difficult to access. There are other barriers that continue to impact trade such as the lack of long-term economic and political reforms, state control over companies, insecurity and a lack of skilled labour forces. The country mainly exports nickel (37.9%), gold (26.7%), tobacco (12.9%), ferro-alloys (5.1%), and platinum (3.4%), while it imports petroleum oils (15.6%), mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (3.3%), soya-bean oil (2.9%), human and animal blood prepared for therapeutic, prophylactic or diagnostic uses (2.9%), and motor vehicles (2.6%).
Zimbabwe's main trading partners are South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Mozambique, China, Mauritius, and Belgium. The country was once a major agricultural exporter, but today it imports foodstuffs and manufactured goods in large quantities. This is mainly due to land expropriation and state-owned enterprises distorting the economy, as well as government's intervention, inadequate supervision, and political instability that undermine the financial system. This economic change has significantly damaged the country's trade balance, which is now in deficit. This trend should continue in the coming years, despite the recovery of gemstone exports and the decline in the global oil prices. The government has reduced certain tariffs to facilitate imports.
In 2021, exports of goods amounted to USD 6 billion, while imports reached USD 7.1 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of USD 1.1 billion. Over that same period, services exports amounted to USD 240 million, while imports reached USD 945 million. Including services, Zimbabwe's trade balance closed 2020 at a deficit of USD 1.8 billion.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2017||2018||2019||2020||2021|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||3,900||6,391||4,817||5,002||7,188|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||3,864||4,057||4,269||4,396||6,035|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||1,072||973||695||474||945|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||371||390||394||148||240|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||3.2||-12.4||-2.1||-29.0||54.8|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||4.8||-2.9||12.3||-39.8||41.1|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||30.4||28.4||25.5||28.7||30.9|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||19.7||26.2||27.2||25.9||25.4|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||-927||-1,938||174||212||n/a|
|Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD)||-1,581||-2,464||-131||-226||n/a|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||50.0||54.6||52.7||54.7||56.3|
Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data
(% of Exports)
|United Arab Emirates||32.3%|
|See More Countries||10.9%|
(% of Imports)
|See More Countries||24.6%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
|6.6 bn USD of products exported in 2022|
|Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought...Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form||30.3%|
|Nickel ores and concentratesNickel ores and concentrates||16.7%|
|Nickel mattes, nickel oxide sinters and other...Nickel mattes, nickel oxide sinters and other intermediate products of nickel metallurgy :||15.6%|
|Unmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuseUnmanufactured tobacco; tobacco refuse||14.1%|
|See More Products||17.9%|
|8.6 bn USD of products imported in 2022|
|Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals||15.5%|
|Soya-bean oil and its fractions, whether or not...Soya-bean oil and its fractions, whether or not refined (excl. chemically modified)||3.4%|
|Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl....Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab||3.0%|
|Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl....Mineral or chemical nitrogenous fertilisers (excl. those in pellet or similar forms, or in packages with a gross weight of <= 10 kg)||2.8%|
|Electrical energyElectrical energy||2.4%|
|See More Products||73.0%|
Source: Comtrade, Latest Available Data
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- The African National Union of Zimbabwe - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF): left, ruling party, nationalist and populist, heir to the liberation movements that fought the apartheid regime of Ian Smith, led by Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa
- Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC): centre-left, social democrat, led by Nelson Chamisa
- Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC–T): centre-left, nationalist, social democrat
The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).
The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The UK Foreign travel advice also provides comprehensive travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on health, safety, security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
For a general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal monetary and macroeconomic) taken by the Zimbabwean government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Zimbabwe in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
For a general overview of international SME support policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.
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Latest Update: September 2023