‘Diaspora remittances are a lifeline’

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Diaspora remittances play a key role in Zimbabwe’s economic growth and sustainable development. Among other things, the remittances sent by migrants to their families support start‑ups, small‑scale enterprises in addition to boosting household consumption and demand for locally produced goods and services.

Additionally, remittances are an important source of income for health and nutrition, education opportunities, improved housing and sanitation, entrepreneurship, financial inclusion and reduced inequality.

The importance of remittances to economic growth and sustainable development prompted the United Nations (UN) to declare June 16 the International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) as part of efforts to recognise the contribution of million migrants all over the world to improve the lives of their family members back home.

According to the UN, half of these Diaspora remittances go to rural areas, where poverty and hunger are concentrated, and where remittances count the most.

Ahead of this year’s International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR) which was observed under the dark cloud of the ravaging Covid-19 which has killed over 477 000 people out of 9 million infections, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for global solidarity in responding to the coronavirus crisis stating “remittances are a lifeline in the developing world — especially now.”

He said Covid-19 has disrupted the entire system that directly involves 200 million migrant workers, half of them women, around the world and their 800 million family members back home.

According to the UN, the impact that Diaspora remittances have on millions of households, communities, countries and entire regions should never be underestimated. As a result, the UN has implored governments, private sector entities, as well as the civil society, to find ways that can maximise the impact of remittances through individual, and/or collective actions.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya revealed in February that Zimbabwe received US$635 million in Diaspora remittances last year, up 2,6 percent from US$619 million dollars in 2018.

Last year the World Bank revealed that Zimbabwe had received $1,85 billion from the Diaspora over the previous three years. The report, titled ‘Migration and Remittances, Recent Developments and Outlook,’ estimated that remittances for 2018 would be well under US$1,9bln, the same as in 2017 and 2016.

The World Bank added that Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa grew almost 10 percent to $46 billion in 2018, supported by strong economic conditions in high-income economies. Looking at remittances as a share of GDP, Comoros had the largest share, followed by the Gambia, Lesotho, Cabo Verde, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

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