Diasporans urged to invest in Zimbabwe

ZIMBABWEANS in the diaspora have a significant role in the country’s economic development and should take advantage of the vast opportunities to invest in all sectors of the economy, Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Ambassador Rofina Chikava said this week.

She was addressing the Zimbabwe diaspora celebration and business summit held in Harare on Thursday evening, an event organised by Zimbabweans In Diaspora Organisation (ZIDO), a grouping of the country’s citizens living abroad.

It is estimated that over as many as three million Zimbabweans could be based all over the world in countries that include South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America, China and Japan where they and their parents are working.

Ambassador Chikava commended the diaspora community for acknowledging that Zimbabwe remained their home and for showing keen interest to be part of the country’s development agenda.

This, she said, had been shown by the level of contribution through diaspora remittances and investments.

“This forum also presents an opportunity for all diasporans to appreciate investment opportunities in our country and identify sectors to invest in. I believe that this initiative should be applauded as it resonates well with the President Dr ED Mnangagwa’s mantra that Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ Ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo,” she said. 

“I thank you ZIDO for organising this event and I also want to say our diasporans are welcome home. Today’s event is about how we can move our country forward as people of Zimbabwe.

“Our investment dialogue must by the end of the day enable us all to speak with one voice, that of developing our country and how best we can complement each other in our various capacities.”

In the first six months of the year, Zimbabwe’s diaspora remittances clocked nearly US$1 billion, and that money has been critical in boosting the supply of liquidity of foreign currency and promoting social sustenance and economic development in the country.

Ambassador Chikava said events such as the summit presented those in the private sector players and the diaspora community the opportunity to continue fostering collaborative and strategic partnerships that broaden the horizon on possible ways towards the country’s development.

“I want to also quote the figure of the amount your Government received from your contribution which is making a difference; if you get almost to a US$1 billion from our community abroad, it shows how much you love your country, you could have just gone to Florida or anywhere you want, but you have chosen to do something for your country,” she said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade was mandated to formally mainstream Zimbabwe’s diaspora in the national development agenda as the country advances towards achieving the aspirations of Vision 2030 to attain an upper middle income society. 

At this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo, the country held the inaugural Diaspora Investment Conference to showcase the investment opportunities in the country’s 10 provinces.

“To this end, I encourage ZIDO to mobilise its members to participate in future diaspora conferences and all coming events organised by the ministry and all provincial authorities.

“It is pleasing to note that these investments forums have enabled the Zimbabwe diaspora to directly engage with provincial authorities in identifying areas of potential investments thereby contributing to the development agenda. 

“Provincial authorities are promoting diaspora investment within their areas of jurisdiction to any accelerated pace in the spirit of devolution,” said Ambassador Chikava.

It was worthwhile that the Government in compliance with the African Union’s decision that recognises the African diaspora as the 6th region of the African continent, had made great strides to incorporate the diaspora as a key constituency in its national development agenda. 

The Zimbabwe National Development Strategy 1 prioritises diaspora participation on national development in acknowledging of the huge contribution that the diasporans have been making to the economy. 

“As we look ahead to 2024, the Government hopes to conclude the review of the National Diaspora Policy which was made in 2016 by the end of the first quarter. This review aims to align Government diaspora policies and engagement with the vision and aspirations of the NDS1 of ensuring diaspora participation in national development,” said Ambassador Chikava.

Earlier in his presentation, Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) chairman Mr Busisa Moyo highlighted that for the six months to June 2023, Zimbabwe had received US$991 million from Zimbabweans abroad.

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“I have it on good authority that the diaspora is actually at US$2 billion already and we are not even at the end of the year, so you are making a difference,” he said. “These are official statistics not including the money you give to your cousins to take to your mum on Emirates out of Dubai, that is not included in that statistics so I think the number is larger.

“The diaspora is making a difference, its 15 percent of all the money that is coming in the country annually.” 

Mr Moyo said ZIDA was created to facilitate investments into the country across all sectors of the economy and the agency has been transformed into a one-stop shop investment services centre where several Government departments were all under one roof to improve the ease of doing business in the country.

“Company registration is now within 48 hours and we worked hard in this area; it was an area when the World Bank was still doing the ease of doing business rankings, Zimbabwe was very low. Just by streamlining the ability to register a company in Zimbabwe and we do it now within 48 hours,” he said. 

“In terms of opportunities, Zimbabwe has a crisis of opportunities. If we had one metal which is mineable, it will be easy. I think one Secretary for the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development shared the number of commercially viable minerals, it runs into the thirties. This country is so blessed when you discover one mineral, you will find another one and today we are talking of lithium.” 

Mr Moyo reiterated that the country was endowed with vast investment opportunities in agriculture, infrastructural development, health and education, among others in need of financial support, capacity building, and consultancy which could earn a decent return on investment for the country’s citizens abroad.

ZIDA had also established a match-making platform where potential investors can interact with people that have mining prospecting orders and hotels, among other assets, and invest.

 ZIDO chairman Mr Blessed Kapesa who is based in the United Kingdom said the investment climate in Zimbabwe continued to be flexible under the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa, adding that the diaspora community should relentlessly tap into investment opportunities.

“What the Second Republic has done is, they have created an office which deals with investment so you find if you are coming from the diaspora wanting to invest, they are right people to meet, connect and get information from. So, slowly the Government is doing its best in opening up the doors to the diaspora community,” he said. 

A clinical consultant and trainer based in the UK, Ms Joy Kapesa, said: “The key areas that I am willing to invest in Zimbabwe is all about health, education and training and also looking at we are in collaboration with St Giles where we’ve been collaborating with the hydrotherapy and rehabilitation. 

“And previously, I came here to support Chitungwiza Hospital donating medical accessories so I am willing to be part and parcel of the health sector to make it happen.” 

She was working in collaboration with other Zimbabweans in the diaspora to open health facilities such as private dialysis centre and intensive care unit in the country.

“We found out that there is a shortage of these health facilities so if we come in small-numbers, but it makes a difference because we are here to build our country and bringing health to everybody,” said Ms Kapesa.


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