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Zimbabwe: Diaspora remittances in decline

By Janet Shoko
Posted on Tuesday, 4 February 2014 11:08

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.

The full statistics on Diaspora remittances and other contributions have been difficult to verify

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said it was exploring more appropriate facilities to effectively harness diaspora savings for the development of the domestic economy.

According to statistics released by RBZ acting governor Charity Dhliwayo said a substantial amount of diaspora remittances continued to be transmitted through informal channels.

“On the back of the negative repercussions of the global economic slow-down, inflows from foreign investment, offshore credit lines, foreign aid and Diaspora remittances have remained subdued,” she said.

“Notably, international money transfers received by transfer agencies (MTAs) and formal banking channels, declined markedly by 15% from $2.1 billion in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2013.

“This notwithstanding, a considerable amount of Diaspora remittances continue to be transmitted through informal channels.

“Toward this end, work is currently underway to come up with appropriate facilities to effectively harness diaspora savings for the development of the domestic economy.”

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in his 2014 budget statement 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 the government planned to introduce a diaspora bond to tap into the market.

“The full statistics on Diaspora remittances and other contributions have been difficult to verify due, in some cases, to the informal channels of remittances used, many households survived on these remittances during the period 2002 to 2009,”Chinamasa said then.

The African diaspora and migrants have for years been instrumental in helping family and friends at home get by, as huge annual remittance flows illustrate, but their contributions beyond remittances could have a significant impact on development, if tapped into.

According to the World Bank, African diaspora savings, at $53 billion every year, exceed annual remittances to the continent and are mostly invested abroad.

Chinamasa said in order to harness the Diaspora market the government would formalise the platform for dialogue with the Diaspora through engaging the Zimbabwe Diaspora Home Interface Programme.

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