The role of Zimbabwe's diasporas in economic development

The role of Zimbabwe's diasporas in economic development
Published: 23 July 2019 (140 Views)
This article was 1st published on engineeringnews.co.zw.

Zimbabwe is battling a water, fuel, forex and electricity crisis. Can diaspora funds save us? From the liberation struggle to date, blacks, whites, indians and coloureds have been leaving Zimbabwe for greener pastures. zimbabwean diasporas have often been treated as foreigners in their adopted countries and as traitors in the countries where they were born, yet they contribute immensely culturally and economically. Now is the time to change this outdated perception.

Research shows that those in the UK have an average income per head of $25,000, and an estimated population of 3 million people of the Zimbabwe diaspora comprise a very strong economic unit with a value of $3 billion coming from the UK only. Compare that with Zimbabwe's nominal GDP for 2018 of $26.3 billion (https://knoema.com/atlas/Zimbabwe/GDP)and the community is hugely significant. These people are seen as potential investors and customers for both Africa and the countries where they have settled in.

The huge economic value of diaspora communities is demonstrated by the remittances that migrant workers send to support families or invest in their mother countries. According to the www.guardian.com, these remittances are at record levels. In 2018 they were officially more than $800 billion globally, according to the World Bank, they may be much higher. Remittances from the US were calculated at $210.8 billion; the UK is believed to generate the third-highest amount, at around $30 billion, of which $3 billion is sent to Zimbabwe alone.

Remittances alone are justifying the establishment of Zimbabwean banks in South Africa, UK and the USA where there is a high concentration of Zimbabweans. Steward Bank opened a branch in the UK purely on the basis of the diaspora remittances. Their idea is to become the bank of choice for diasporas and non-resident Zimbabweans. With the growth of internet banking, Zimbabweans will have access to their village that they came from in terms of remitting funds all on their mobile devices with a click of a button"

Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of the diasporas. Zimbabwe has recently taken steps to build relations with its emigrants, many of whom left during a period of Mugabe's rule. The Zimbabwean government should setup the Diaspora Research Unit at the Ministry of International Trade and Foreign Affairs just like Ghana whose aim is to support emigrant Ghanaians who want to return home or improve ties with their mother country.

This kind of government support is of enormous value to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's diaspora community thrives on news from its country of origin and on practical reminders food, music, literature from the land from which it originates.

Of course, there are those Zimbabweans who would like to shed their cultural "heritage baggage" they brought with them and completely integrate with their adopted country. It is always a good thing but some have completely lost their cultural identity which is completely sad. Zimbabwe should recognise the fact that their cultural distinctions are important. These must be preserved so that the next generation will be able to recognise them and take pleasure in them. We need to remind the new generation diasporas of their heritage. They need to know it is an asset, and not a liability.

In Zimbabwe it is clearly important for all Zimbabweans to acknowledge that diasporas bring benefits rather than burdens. As the recent election showed, most politicians struggle with the complex issues of immigration, there is now a need to analyze this and identify the benefit and value of migration to the mother land and encourage them to participate in economic development of Zimbabwe and Africa. www.engineeringnews.co.zw

 From the research, those in the UK have an average income per head of $25,000, and an estimated population of 3 million people of the Zimbabwe diaspora comprise a very strong economic unit with a value of $3 billion coming from the UK only. Compare that with Zimbabwe's nominal GDP for 2018 of $26.3 billion (https://knoema.com/atlas/Zimbabwe/GDP)and the community is hugely significant. These people are seen as potential investors and customers for both Africa and the countries where they have settled.

The huge economic value of diaspora communities is demonstrated by the remittances that migrant workers send to support families or invest in their mother countries. According to the www.guardian.com, these remittances are at record levels. In 2018 they were officially more than $800 billion globally, according to the World Bank, they may be much higher. Remittances from the US were calculated at $210.8 billion; the UK is believed to generate the third-highest amount, at around $30 billion, of which $3 billion is sent to Zimbabwe alone.

Remittances alone are justifying the establishment of Zimbabwean banks in South Africa, UK and the USA where there is a high concentration of Zimbabweans. Steward Bank opened a branch in the UK purely on the basis of the diaspora remittances. Their idea is to become the bank of choice for diasporas and non-resident Zimbabweans. With the growth of internet banking, Zimbabweans will have access to their village that they came from in terms of remitting funds all on their mobile devices with a click of a button"

Companies are increasingly recognising the importance of the diasporas. Zimbabwe has recently taken steps to build relations with its emigrants, many of whom left during a period of Mugabe's rule. The Zimbabwean government should setup the Diaspora Research Unit at the Ministry of International Trade and Foreign Affairs just like Ghana whose aims to support emigrant Ghanaians who want to return home or improve ties with their mother country.

This kind of government support is of enormous value to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's diaspora community thrives on news from its country of origin and on practical reminders food, music, literature from the land from which it originates.  

Of course, there are those Zimbabweans who would like to shed their cultural "heritage baggage" they brought with them and completely integrate with their adopted country. It is always a good thing but some have completely list their cultural identity which is completely sad.  Zimbabwe should recognise the fact that their cultural distinctions are important. These must be preserve so that the next generation will be able to recognise them and take pleasure in them. We need to remind the new generation diasporas of their heritage. They need to know it is an asset, not a liability.

In Zimbabwe it is clearly important for all Zimbabweans to acknowledge that diasporas bring benefits rather than burdens. As the recent election showed, most politicians struggle with the complex issues of immigration, there is now a need to analysis this and identify the benefit and value of migration to the mother land and encourage them to participate in economic development of Zimbabwe and Africa.

Engineer: Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi Contact: +263772278161

- www.engineeringnews.co.zw

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