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Sikhulekelani Moyo, [email protected]

GOVERNMENT has commended Zimbabweans in the diaspora for their growing contribution to economic growth through remittances and investments in different development projects.

Speaking in Bulawayo during the inaugural Diaspora Investment Conference held on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Deputy Minister, Dr David Musabayana, urged the scaling up of partnerships between local businesses and the diaspora community.

He said the hosting of the conference in Bulawayo was ideal as the city was Zimbabwe’s traditional industrial hub and that the event coincides with the ZITF, a prime global platform for serious business stakeholder engagement.

The event brought together representatives from different diaspora groups, Government officials as well as industry representatives.

Dr Musabayana said the Second Republic recognises the diaspora’s contribution towards national development and was ready to facilitate its involvement in further transformation of the economy.

“The Second Republic is elated that its nationals in the diaspora have demonstrated keen interest to maintain social, economic, and cultural ties with their home towns, provinces, districts, and villages,” he said.

“Your presence here today testifies that we all have one vision, which is to develop our Zimbabwe. For this gesture, we applaud our diaspora and acknowledge their role in the national development agenda.

“In the recent past, our country was facing economic challenges impacting negatively on the livelihood of our citizens. The diaspora remittances provided safety nets for our people and also became one of the largest contributors to foreign currency inflows in Zimbabwe — second to mining,” said Dr Musabayana.

“This contributed to the growth and stabilisation of our economy. For this, we applaud you, thank you, and keep it up. Your country needs you.”

Official figures indicate that the diaspora remittances grew by 15,9 percent in 2022 to US$1,65 billion while about US$290 million was received in the last two months of the year. In 2021, remittances stood at US$1,43 billion.

Dr Musabayana said President Mnangagwa has considered the request from the diaspora on opening a special economic zone for them to invest. He urged the diaspora community to consider engaging the provincial offices for investment opportunities in agriculture, mining, energy, and tourism, entering into joint ventures with local or foreign investors in agriculture, mining, tourism, and energy sectors, and liaising with the tertiary institutions on the transfer of skills /mentorship programmes.

Other opportunities include distributorship of Zimbabwe’s flagship products in their resident countries such as Mazowe Orange Crush, maize meal, Sun Jam, biltong, amacimbi and clothing.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Mr Mike Kamungeremu called upon the diaspora community to consider partnering with local companies in different economic sectors.

He said diasporas are free to engage them in any issues that need to be addressed with the Government so that they lobby on their behalf.

Zimbabwe Diaspora Nation Building Initiative representative Mr Cephas Tshuma said the conference highlighted the need to tap into local opportunities to invest back home.

He also said it has assisted them as it brought into light most of the procedures, which need to be done when people want to invest at home.

“The most important thing that excited us is how Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (Zida) has structured its one-stop shop. Most of us when we come here, we will not be having much time to process things but the facility will allow us to do that in a few days,” said Mr Tshuma.

“Apart from that, there are a lot of initiatives to benefit the diasporas. If we can interrogate them further and engage relevant departments and ministries, there is the willingness to do genuine business.”

Zida chief facilitator Mr Never Nyemudzo said all Government offices and departments, which are necessary for opening investments have been brought under one roof through the Zida Act.

He said they are also working on introducing an online platform that will allow investors to register companies and other inquiries without visiting offices.

Diasporans have been identified as a low-hanging fruit that can facilitate direct foreign investments into the country and also they have been urged to work as distributors of local goods to the international market.–@SikhulekelaniM1

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