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Strategic Lessons from South Korea for the Development of Zimbabwe
17. June 2018 at 20:13
Korea’s success presents one of the biggest economic development histories across the geo-spatial temporal divide. It should be noted that Korea is an outstanding case because of its rapid development from being a poor to one of the most outstanding big economic powers in the world. Since Zimbabwe has been less successful in fast-tracking its development as well as integrating into the economy of the world, it is important for the country to draw strategic lessons of the remarkable success of Korea.
The performance Zimbabwe’s exports are not encouraging and this is shown by the increased imports into the country and less exports. Korea’s export promotion strategy that helped it to achieve high per capita income is an important strategic lesson for the development of my country. It should be noted that the government of Korea devised all conceivable policy tools for export promotion. Promotion of exports allowed Korea, to exploit comparative advantages and cost-competitiveness in labour intensive manufactured goods. This intervention was critical as it helped the private sector have access to foreign markets and improve the quality of products to ably compete on the international markets. In boosting exports, Korea had to adopt various export promotion measures, tax exemption as well as devaluation of the currency which are much important for Zimbabwe as a developing economy.

The devaluation of the currency aids in boosting exports and discouraging imports and the expanded credit incentives for exporters increased the number of types and the volume of preferential loans for exports. At the time of large devaluation in May 1964 the government dropped direct subsidies and the full-scale export-import link system, and it expanded credit incentives for exporters. These export promotion measures are very important lessons that Zimbabwe can adopt from Korea in order to accelerate its economic growth. Nevertheless, an important point to note is that countries that do not open up to the world market will stay behind and also remain impoverished.

More so, the education policy of Korea is also an important lesson for the development of my country. Education policy in Korea focused mainly on primary and secondary schools which in turn generated a rapid increase in labour force skills. It should be noted that Korea’s population is one of highly educated across the world and thanks to the excellent education policy introduction. Domjahn (2013) supports this by explaining that over 7% of Korea’s GDP is invested in education and private investments in the education sector also amount to 2,8% of GDP which is one of the highest values of all OECD countries. The zeal for education has been very high in Korea; and what actually guides the zeal is the need to improve the children’s chances to get into universities. Since investment in education has been very high in Korea with household savings of 7,6% in education, this has aided Korea to obtain a highly qualified and disciplined work force.

Zimbabwe as developing nation should learn from Korea by developing and strengthening its human capital through investing more in education. This will in turn aid in the acceleration of the amalgamation of highly sophisticated technologies, closing income disparities and also high capital accumulation and augmented services and goods. Currently, Zimbabwean universities struggle with ways of providing quality education under massification against a background of limited and dwindled government funding (Mutenga, 2012 in Nehanda Radio, 2016). The shortage of skilled personal to teach in schools and universities has been exacerbated by the increased brain drain.

Still on the education policy aspect, Zimbabwe needs to learn strategic lessons from Korea by adopting the Lifelong Education System. It should be noted that Korea’s maintenance of the Lifelong Education System that was introduced in May 31 had a major aim of developing a society whereby there was lifelong learning and also anyone at any point in time could engage in education when they wished. Within the lifelong learning system, education centers were also developed to foster a culture of research and information dissemination. My country should also learn from Korea’s education in formalization that was advanced by the government around the 1970s. The education informalization system has allowed Korea to achieve outstanding results of world class sharing systems for education related information (EDUNET and NEIS).

Strategic lessons learnt from Korea’s experience of infrastructure development could be channelled to developing countries such as Zimbabwe (my country) such that it does the same way. Infrastructure development is very important for Zimbabwe because it can accelerate its economic growth and also lead to increased productivity and equitable distribution of income the same way as Korea. Since my country Zimbabwe has a weakness in quality infrastructure development and improvement as shown as viewed by SDGs, it is of paramount importance for the latter to learn from the strategic lessons of Korea infrastructure development. Yoshino and Nakahiganshi (2000) purpote that the economic effects of infrastructure development lead to a creation of jobs and stimulate the economy hence increasing total regional production. Most of the utilities including the infrastructure sector have not been revamped. Examples include roads, civil aviation and railway networks.

ZimAsset (2014) elaborates that this weakness has been caused by the shortage of capital and investments. It is important for my country to learn from Korea’s adequate communications as well as transportation infrastructure. Zimbabwe has to channel and invest a huge share of its expenditure towards the development of its infrastructure just like what the Korean government did after the post war period. Korea in the peninsular ensured that develops so fast by construction of roads, power stations and electricity and abundant communication services which in turn accelerated jobs and more opportunities for the whole population.

In addition, important lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe from the Saemual Undong experience of South Korea. The Saemual Undong is a New Village model which was implemented by President Park Chung Hee in the 1970s. It should be noted that through this movement it has been easier for Koreans to improve their standards of living through cooperation, working together as well as raising incomes and thereby closing the huge rural-urban disparities. Through the success of this model, rural poverty was reduced which also resulted in increased GDP, development of rural infrastructure.

Since the Korean Government supported Village Tree Nursing projects by purchasing seedling, this led to the creation of jobs and encouraged aforestation. Reed (2010) elaborates that “the New Village Movement/Saemual Undong has turned out to be a national trademark in Korea’s program for sharing its development experience with other countries”. Since rural development and upliftment is a serious challenge for Zimbabwe, the country should learn from Korea how it managed to promote and achieve rural development through the Saemual movement and Government support.

Zimbabwe still struggles to promote rural industrialisation and development because of a number of underlying factors such as failure of strategic positioning of rural areas, lack of massive financial support and infrastructural development, siphoning of funds by the elites in the government meant for industrialisation into personal coffers, lack of consultation of rural people to participate in the process as well as lack of incentives to encourage the private sector to expand and open up branches in rural areas. This has resulted in rural areas to develop at a snail pace unlike the case of Korea where rural development took place very fast in an expanding economy. This has ensured creation of jobs outside of agriculture as well as giving opportunities to large scale government investments in the rural sector by policies on pricing and technology and infrastructure (Reed, 2010).

Furthermore, another strategic lesson from Korea is from the Saemual Undong experience. Korea as a growing economy in the 1960s ensured establishment of foundations for rural development and this was done through strategising and strengthening the capacity of local authority institutions as well as investing in agricultural research. Since Zimbabwe is mainly agro-based and a larger population of the country depends largely on agriculture, the country can ensure taking up Korea’s lesson by investing more in research as well as extension of agricultural services that mainly focus on the introduction of new agricultural technologies and cropping methods so as to boost productivity. This could aid Zimbabwe to return to its position of being Africa’s bread basket again. In order to ensure that such kind of development of Zimbabwe is achieved like in Korea, the country should also continue building on viable institutions and increased infrastructure in order to support and accelerate rural development in terms of communication and accessibility.

Currently, Zimbabwe is also at the risk of climate change variability and increased risk. Climate change in Zimbabwe has also been aggravated increased deforestation according to EMA. Financial Gazette (2013) estimates that between 100 000 to 320 000 hectares of forest cover were lost per year in Zimbabwe between the period 2000 to 2008. These environmental degradation activities are still occurring as of now in Zimbabwe as shown by increased CO2. Korea’s green growth strategy is an important strategic lesson for Zimbabwe since this will ensure preservation of the environment, accelerate aforestation and also lead to sustainable development like in Korea.

The green growth strategy of 2009-2050 of mitigating climate change and energy independence is a very important lesson for Zimbabwe if it wants to reduce problems of climate change and deforestation. By Zimbabwe adopting the Green Growth Strategy like the way Korea did, it will ensure acceleration of its SDGs and environmental protection and preservation. This is because Korea is one of the few countries that managed to succeed in reforestation in the 1960s and 1980s.

In addition, there has been a series of green growth innovations in Korea such as the Volume based waste collection fee system and launching of the green growth strategy in 2008 and spread of environmental movements across Korea in the 1980s. The environmental policies introduced in Korea have strengthened environmental regulations as well as support by the central and the city governments. The strength and willingness of people to confront industrial polluters in Korea is an important lesson that Zimbabwe can learn because it has helped Korea to escape desperate poverty whilst also improving the environmental quality of life.

Currently, Zimbabwe’s public health system is not performing well. This can be accounted for increased corruption, poor budget allocation in the health sector, weak capacity of public health system; the former has suffered a great deal in development. In addition, the healthy life expectancy of Zimbabwe is still around 50 years. With these serious challenges that my country is facing, there are lessons that should be learnt from Korea since the latter has moved a great stride in providing and achieving universal health coverage since 1989. In this same vein, Youngyi Joo (2009) asserts that Korea improved in terms of ensuring accessibility to medical health care as well as reducing burdens of medical costs to its population.

In addition, my country should learn from Korea’s reforms within the public sector industry which helped Korea to develop strong public health systems. The introduction of reforms multi insurance system and the separation reform in the past 30 years have allowed Korea to augment its financial health presentation as well as the develop the health of its population. This has also aided Korea to have an increased life expectancy of 76.1 years in 2006 among its population. My country has a lot to learn from this system and this can be done by broadening the health coverage system so as to allow for more generous benefits and universal health coverage.

Lastly, Zimbabwe has to learn strategic lessons of Korea’s transportation policies. Korea’s major changes of transport have been tremendous since the 1960s. Before Korea succeeded in its transport system, it faced major chaos of public transport around the 1980s but this was solved through different strategic transport policies. Korea’s transportation policies were mainly people centred, they focused on expanding the passenger accommodation capacity of public transport, management of passenger car demand and building an environment friendly urban transport system.

Likewise, Zimbabwe has a problem of traffic congestions and poor national transport networks. The main point here is that if Zimbabwe learns from Korea’s policies by expanding transport network and investing more in transport infrastructure construction which is mainly people-centred, my country can achieve success. Another important strategic lesson from Korea’s transportation system is that political interest also promoted increase of public transport. Such a move also ensured that Korea’s pursuit of a sustainable transport system was in place. Zimbabwe can therefore learn from this strategic lesson of Korea by promoting diversification through expansion of public transport modes and increasing interest on road operation efficiency. This will increase public transport efficiency as well as effective operation of public transport.

Moreover, Korea should be applauded for making greater development in the ICT industry. Sachs (2016) elaborates that ICT and broadband are vital in delivering social services that are related to education, health as well as security. This is an important strategic lesson for Zimbabwe since it can learn how to also speed up its development of ICT. It should be noted that ICT contribution to Korea’s GDP was 33% in the year 1999 whilst in year 2000, it increased to 47%. Based on broadband networks and information technologies, the country is leading the world particularly in hardware-semi-conductor, mobile phones, TFT-LCD, and digital TV. Its global competitiveness has also expanded to some of the software sector, most prominently in the online game industry.

In addition, Korea has the second most advanced technological infrastructure, the largest broadband subscribers, and the second lowest broadband cost in the world, according to the IMD World Competitive Yearbook of 2005 through ICT development. The ICT Industry of Korea has played a vital role in the recovery from the economic crisis, take-off as well as the new stage of development. Zimbabwe can also learn more strategic lessons from Koreas ICT industry that focused on E-government by promoting ICT productivity with efficiency and effectiveness of tasks related to public and administrative services. Zimbabwe can learn this strategic lesson from Korea by also being the best open e-government that is based on good governance and full civic participation.

In conclusion, this article has unravelled the strategic lessons from Korea for the development of Zimbabwe. Korea’s development models can be transferred to Zimbabwe which is a developing economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper also stressed out that Zimbabwe can learn from Korea that equal income distribution, education, sound industrial policies, export promotion and Saemual Undong are vital factors for rapid economic growth of Zimbabwe. There is a serious need for Zimbabwe to create a conducive climate for private sector as well as investors if it wants to be on the right track to economic growth like South Korea. Like Korea, Zimbabwe also needs a strong highly focused leadership, commitment by the people and an understanding that economic development produces pleasant outcomes.
Cite This Article As: Mthandazo Khumalo. "Strategic Lessons from South Korea for the Development of Zimbabwe." International Youth Journal, 17. June 2018.

Link To Article: https://youth-journal.org/strategic-lessons-from-south-korea-for-the-development-of-zi

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