Page last updated at 22:45 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 23:45 UK

Growth in Zimbabwe 'may reach 6%'

Tendai Biti
Mr Biti says Zimbabwe has managed so far without any foreign aid

Zimbabwe's economy could grow by between 4% and 6% this year, according to the country's finance minister.

Tendai Biti said steps would be taken to restrict central bank activities such as borrowing.

Separately, US President Barack Obama pledged $73m (£44m) in aid to Zimbabwe, after meeting Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai at the White House.

The Zimbabwean economy has been battered by years of hyperinflation and economic contraction.

Mr Tsvangirai is on a tour of the US and Europe trying to drum up financial support.

President Obama praised Mr Tsvangirai's efforts in Zimbabwe, saying "we've seen progress from the prime minister".

But he added that the aid would not be going to the government but directly to the people of Zimbabawe, as the US still had concerns about "consolidating democracy, human rights and rule of law" in the country.

Growth predictions

Finance Minister Tendai Biti was speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town.

"I think we will be able to achieve a growth rate of at least 6%, although conservatively it will be 4% in 2009," he told journalists.

The fact that the government was able to address Zimbabwe's economic problems "without any cent from anyone", he added, showed that "we can do it with or without huge financial resources".

Zimbabwe's economy has been shrinking for years. It contracted by 6.1% in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The power-sharing government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai - sworn in in February - has said the country needs about $10bn (£6bn) to stabilise its economy.

Foreign donors have said they will only consider aid once Zimbabwe's government creates a democracy.

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