The government should establish a board that directly deals with this vital economic sector, the diaspora
By Akson Potera
This week I offer a view which many want to run away from. That Zimbabwe’s economy is in hands of Zimbabwe’s diaspora.
There is not much difference between foreign and diaspora investment.
The notable difference is that foreign investment is more formal and it is in the hands of foreigners while diaspora is a sub-economy on its own which includes formal and informal commercial and/or economic activities.
Last year diaspora remittances jumped from U$635.7m in 2019 to U$940 million, (almost U$1billion) in 2020.
There was a significant increase of 58% which is good news for our economy.
There is a lot that the government, at all levels, can benefit from the diaspora.
The government should stop viewing the diaspora as an enemy, instead, they are economic role players.
Some have acquired certain skills in different sectors that the state may directly need and benefit from.
Zimbabwean diasporans may establish these businesses – among them transport, vocational training centres, food production, cellphone repair shops, hardware shops, etc in their communities where those products or services wouldn’t be easily accessed.
The government should establish a board that directly deals with this vital economic sector, the diaspora.
This would improve the relations between the two sides, resulting in greater benefit from the state.
My humble request to the state is that the government should loosen tax collection on those who bring in the much-needed essentials for business.
Agri products, vehicles for public transport (a minimum of at least 3 or more combis or trucks), ICT equipment, and educational gadgets.
This will increase the remittance and cushion our daily demands which we only look for the state to provide.
Allowing diasporans to vote will also motivate them to invest back home thereby boosting the economy.
After all, voting is a right for all Zimbabweans.
China, India, Ethiopia, and Somalia are examples of countries sustaining their economies through diaspora investment.
Some Zimbabweans have worked or are working in the Agri sector for years and acquired vital skills for food production which the Zim government directly needs as we got land in 2000 which is unutilised.
That is a symbiotic benefit between the countries in which Zimbabweans work or do business and Zimbabwe.
It is also crucial for all Zimbabweans to view diasporans as their economic, social, and political friends.
Our economy is in the hands of Zimbabweans outside the country as we all know investors are reluctant to invest in Zimbabwe.
There is not much Foreign Direct Investment or FDI that takes place in Zimbabwe hence DI or Diasporan Investment is the alternative source of foreign currency.
The writer is the Executive Director of Fastforward Community Development Centre in Southern Africa. Akson Potera. Feedback email@example.com
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