AROUND Christmas time and at the beginning of every year, I have routinely sent cash to my extended family back home in
That's been the pattern since I joined the
I am not alone; the number of Zimbabweans who have left the country is estimated at more than three million. Most have left since 2000, for reasons varying from the socio-economic to political.
Diaspora statistics from
This picture seems to suggest the country's huge investment in education has been lost, yet when
In that time period, it was the biggest source of capital inflow and out-performed both exports earnings and development assistance.
Worldwide, members of the diaspora may or may not want to return to their country of origin, but most want to make a difference to their country by contributing money in the form of remittances, skills and knowledge - often called 'social remittances'; establishing networks and connections, and investing in business ventures or technology transfer.
Aside from economic impact, countries that have benefitted most from their diaspora have governments that have engaged this group and implemented policies to recognise the role of the diaspora, and give them incentives to invest and reduce costs of doing business.
For those of us from
In 2012, as part of its support to
Develop an IT-based skills locator to facilitate self-reporting by diaspora-based professionals and build a database of expertise within the diaspora, which both the public and private sector can tap into;
Establish a think-tank to share knowledge on various subjects and topics that would be available as input for socio-economic strategic planning purposes, for the public sector as well as for business decision-making. Activities would include videoconferencing, information exchange during seminars and workshops, and research papers;
Define investment pathways by finding partners that are 'a good fit', a process that is challenging because investment choices are more individualistic and a result of intensive exchanges often of a confidential nature that requires certain levels of trust. The diaspora would be networked to form resource pools to take up opportunities in both the public and private sectors;
Support philanthropic causes through shipping and distribution of donations of equipment and supplies for health facilities, books for schools, and clothes and other consumables for orphans; and
Develop programmes to build public and private sector capacity through virtual training and sabbaticals, among other activities.
Since the summit,
The Zimbabwean diaspora is ready to contribute to its country's development by pooling resources and investing in new ventures in mining, agriculture and financial sectors. I am very glad to contribute to these efforts.
Mugwagwa is a human development specialist with the
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