Diasporans challenged to drive national development
Senior Business Reporter
Zimbabweans living and working in the Diaspora must contribute more to economic growth through participation in national development programmes and partnerships, economic analysts have said.
The economists noted that diaspora remittances grew by 15,9 percent in 2022 to US$1,65 billion while about US$290 million was received in the last two months of the year. In 2021, remittances stood at US$1,43 billion.
According to the World Bank, the diaspora of developing countries can be a potent force for development, through remittances, but more importantly, through promotion of trade, investment, knowledge and technology transfers.
Economic analyst Tinevimbo Shava said, “We expect this trend as the country has exported labour throughout the world in the previous six to seven months, meaning that the country might reach a new high on remittances this year.”
Diaspora remittances usually make up a sixth of the country’s foreign currency receipts and are the third largest forex earner next to gold and platinum. In total, forex receipts are estimated to have closed the year above US$10 billion.
According to economist Dr Prosper Chitambara, Zimbabwe can be developed by its people regardless of their geographical location.
“The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has reiterated that the Government is open and committed to supporting Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that involve diaspora consortiums. PPPs enhance the capacity to develop the economy by availing an alternative source of revenue for large capital projects,” he said.
Finance and Economic Development is on record telling delegates at a symposium in the United Kingdom, “I urge you all to explore the opportunities that are available in agriculture, energy, tourism, manufacturing, Information Communication Technology, housing, and roads back home, these are possible areas of investment.”
Analyst Shava believes the other way in which the diaspora community can contribute towards growth is through trade promotion.
“By securing markets for specific products for each of the country’s ten provinces, thereby establishing niche markets. For example, through Hometown Associations, members of Diaspora communities that originate from Matabeleland can develop export markets for leather and leather products.
“And those from Manicaland can focus on developing markets for fruits and other horticultural products, as well as honey. I believe this is in line with devolution and decentralisation policy as advocated by the Government,” he said.
Diaspora Zimbabweans sending money back home through banking channels declined from 5 percent in 2014 to 1 percent in 2022.
However, Zimbabweans using other non-banking but formal channels to send money back home remains higher at 30 percent in 2022 although much lower from the 43 percent recorded in 2014.
It is estimated that the monthly remittance flows from South Africa to Zimbabwe only, range between US$30 to US$60 million through both formal and informal channels and accounts for over 10 percent of the country’s economy according to the World Bank.