The government has drafted a Diaspora policy, which seeks to tap into remittances that are estimated to be about $1,8 billion per annum.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
This comes as the importance of remittances has risen, as they are now generating more money than foreign direct investment (FDI).
Speaking at a stakeholder engagement Workshop on a review of the Industrial Development Policy (IDP) yesterday in Harare, government consultant, Gibson Chigumira said the policy would govern how government could tap into remittances.
“This is a policy where we are saying how do we tap into remittances from overseas for the economy. Currently, there is a draft policy awaiting approval,” he said.
The workshop was hosted by the Industry and Commerce ministry, Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the European Union in order to review the IDP 2012-2016 framework.
IDP sought to double the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP to 30%, increase the sector’s contribution to exports to 50% from 26%, and get capacity utilisation to 80% by the end of 2016.
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However, a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) report states that capacity utilisation will close the year at around 31%.
The lack of liquidity and the recent negative response to the introduction of bond notes have contributed to government seeking alternative sources of income to boost the economy.
ZNCC chief executive officer Christopher Mugaga said with more than two million Zimbabweans living outside the country, there was need to seriously look into that space.
“A simple fact that we have more than two million Zimbabweans residing outside the country calls for concerted efforts to tap into their skills and purses, as a way to industrialisation. It is also a fact that Diaspora remittances are one of the major sources of liquidity in Zimbabwe ahead of FDI,” he said.
Mugaga said some of the policy measures that government can adopt are a transfer of know-how through expatriate nationals (Tokten), return of qualified Zimbabwe nationals (RQZN) programme and Zimbabwean network of skilled Africans.
Tokten would be used for to recapture some of the experience of highly skilled expatriate professionals residing outside their countries of origin; RQZN would reduce the gap between the Zimbabwe economy and the fast-growing international market, by using services of their citizens in the Diaspora.
He said the Zimbabwean network of skilled Africans would require members to make contributions in the uptake of Zimbabwean students in their laboratories or training programmes, participation in training or research with Zimbabwean counterparts, facilitation of business contacts and initiation of research and commercial projects.