Diaspora remittances stagnant at US$1.85bln – World Bank

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE has been receiving $1.85 billion from the diaspora over the past three years, a recent World Bank report has revealed.

The report, Migration and Remittances, Recent Developments and Outlook, estimates that remittances for this year would be well under US$1.9bln, the same as in 2017 and 2016.

This is down from a peak of US$2 billion realised in 2015.

However, economist John Robertson expressed reservations over the figures saying they were not inclusive.

“The challenge is that it is difficult for the World Bank to capture all the figures coming through the informal system which is now common among Zimbabweans as they no longer trust the banking systems.

“People in the diaspora also send money in the form of goods and the details are not always recorded,” he said.

Another economist, Doctor Godfrey Kanyenze, said that the figures reflect problems being experienced in the source markets.

“If you analyse you will agree that in countries where Zimbabweans are living, economic challenges are being experienced,” he said.

“South Africa, for instance, is saddled with instability; the United Kingdom is struggling with the Brexit issue while the United States also has internal problems.

“As a result, it then makes it difficult to send money back home,” he said.

During the 2019 budget presentation, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the diaspora presents a significant opportunity for contributing to the development of the economy and noted that government was in the process of implementing policy to better harness this resource.

Meanwhile, remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to grow by 9.8 percent from $41 billion in 2017 to $45 billion in 2018. Projections indicate that remittances to the region will keep increasing, but at a lower rate, to $47 billion by 2019.

Looking at remittances as a share of GDP, the Gambia has the largest share, followed by Comoros, Lesotho, Senegal, Liberia, Cabo Verde, Zimbabwe, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

The top 10 nations that get the most money from their diaspora, behind Nigeria ($25 billion), Ghana ($3.8 billion), Senegal ($2.7 billion), Kenya ($2.1 billion), Zimbabwe ($1.9 billion), Mali ($1 billion), South Africa ($900 million), Uganda ($800 million) and Ethiopia ($500 million).