Zim targets Diasporas in economic development drive

Chris Mahove- Acting Editor

Government has embarked on the creation of a diaspora friendly policy framework which will enhance promotion of investments by Diasporas in their country as part of the Second Republic’s engagement and re-engagement thrust.

Diaspora remittances are now among the key foreign currency contributors in the country, contributing more than US$1 billion in 2020.

Zimbabwe is targeting an upper-middle income economy by 2030 under its National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 and the roping in of its citizens living outside the country will help speed up economic growth as the country seeks to achieve its goal.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has already presented proposals on how the country can strategically engage Zimbabweans in the diaspora and encourage them to also contribute towards the development of the country’s economy.

 Cabinet last week announced the adoption of the policy framework, advising that such a policy would assist the country to harness social, economic, political and cultural dividends which would help spur development in the country.

“The development of a comprehensive policy and strategies will unlock knowledge and skills transfer; diaspora direct investment; and philanthropic works. Government, on the other hand, will avail industrial shells and land to eligible diasporas for the construction of specialist hospitals and industrial parks and any other areas or sectors,” Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told reporters at the 9th Post Cabinet Media Briefing in Harare last Tuesday.

She said an Inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and deputized by the Minister of Finance and Economic Development has already been put in place to help realize the contribution of the Diasporas to the development of their country.

“The Committee is mandated to review the National Diaspora Policy as well as develop robust strategies and interventions for diaspora engagement and re-engagement.  Furthermore, the Cabinet Committee will have sector- specific Sub-Committees which will be mandated to deal with issues pertaining to any sector of the economy,” she said.

Mutsvangwa said government would also facilitate the establishment of joint ventures between Zimbabweans in the diaspora and landowners for the production and export of high quality agricultural products and any other sector for investment.

It is envisaged that the policy would also help strengthen and empower Consular Services abroad to issue Civil Registration documents, Visas and Work Permits. 

“A Diaspora Bond will be listed on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development once finalized,” she said.

A  One-Stop-Service-Centre for Diaspora investment applications will also be set-up at the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) to expedite the processing of the proposals.

Diaspora remittances have surpassed traditional foreign currency earners tobacco and gold, an indication that it had the potential to play a major role in the economic development of the country.

According to the latest African Development Bank (ADB) report, Zimbabwe has topped the list of remittances in Southern Africa.

 According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, diaspora remittances grew by 58 % to US$1 billion last year.

In the recent Monetary Policy Statement, Central Bank governor John Mangudya said in 2019 remittances stood at US$635 million.

The growth registered in 2020 was despite blanket lockdowns rolled out by governments across the world to fight Covid-19.

At the height of economic challenges in Zimbabwe in 2008 which led to massive de-industrialization, , an estimated 3 million  Zimbabweans flocked out of the country in search of greener pastures in foreign countries.

These included professionals such as Bankers, engineers, teachers, lawyers, mining experts and health personnel who relocated to countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, South Africa, Namibia and Botswana among others.

Neighboring South Africa is believed to be hosting the bulk of these individuals, an estimated two million Zimbabweans who include unskilled laborers.

 This exodus of people from the country have been sending money back home to look after their families, buy properties and make some investments, making remittances one of the most important sources of income and social protection in Zimbabwe.

Developing countries enjoy a significant share of financial flows from remittances.

In 2016, developing countries accounted for 75% of the global remittances, receiving US$429 billion of the total US$575 billion.

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