Lovemore Mataire Senior Reporter
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have remitted US$1,4 billion in the past two years and the figure could be higher if non-formal remittances are included.
Statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe indicate that in 2012, total remittances, including those of industrial organisations, amounted to US$2,1 billion, while in 2013 remittances totalled US$1,8 billion.
A Reserve Bank official said yesterday that the amount could be higher given that a substantial amount of diaspora remittances continued to be transmitted through informal channels.
He said although the total remittances may show a decline, there was actually an upsurge in terms of individual remittances.
The official said of the US$2,1 billion recorded in 2012, US$655 million were individual remittances by Zimbabweans, while US$764 million was part of the US$1,8 billion recorded last year.
“There was actually an increase in individual remittances from 2012 to 2013,” he said. “In 2012, individual remittances were US$655 million and last year the figure was US$764 million, which shows that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have confidence in the economic prospects of our country.”
The official said at least 50 percent of remittances came through informal channels and the central bank was in the process of devising strategies to ensure that a larger chunk of remittances came through formal banking channels. Zimbabwe has a strong skilled and non-skilled Diaspora population mainly in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States, who regularly send money back home to sustain their families.
Although it is difficult to verify the full statistics of remittances and other contributions, the RBZ said it was exploring other suitable facilities to effectively harness Diaspora savings for the development of the economy.
The central bank said the total decline in total remittance recorded last year was not a fair barometer in judging the Diaspora contributions as these were mainly from non-governmental and international organisations which could have been affected by a number of factors that include the global economic slow-down, subdued inflows from foreign investment, offshore credit lines and foreign aid.
In his 2014 Budget Statement, Finance Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa said most countries in the world, including Zimbabwe’s regional neighbours, were benefiting immensely from financial transfers by their nationals in the Diaspora. He said there were plans by the Government to introduce a Diaspora bond to tap into the market.
According to the World Bank, African Diaspora savings, at US$53 billion every year, exceed annual remittances to the continent and are mostly invested abroad.