Editor's Comment

Diaspora key to Zambia’s growth agenda

JOSEPH Malanji.

THAT the national diaspora policy has been launched is indeed a progressive move which should motivate all those Zambians scattered across the globe to come back home and invest.
The policy, whose objective is to integrate Zambians in the diaspora in the development agenda of the country, could not have come at a better time than this, when the country is in a hurry to attain its Vision 2030 of becoming a middle-income nation.
It is a known fact that despite the country having a huge population in the diaspora, it has not been able to harness full dividends from them.
Ordinarily, having a huge population in the diaspora should translate into benefits for the home country.
Research shows that African diaspora in particular can be a valuable asset for exchanging knowledge, ideas, and technology that could be useful in achieving the continent’s development agenda.
Analysts have also made several cases about how remittances have proven to be a critical resource for many developing countries.
According to a review by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), “despite the growth slump in most Western countries in 2017, a number of African countries projected a positive economic outlook, with remittance income as a key economic booster.
Remittances have become a critical factor in reducing poverty in developing countries.
For instance, in 2017, the diaspora contributed 27.1 percent of Liberia’s GDP. Nigeria has 5.6 percent.
Another good example is Sierra Leone, where its diaspora health workers in the UK created an association to provide annual medical support (in the form of skills, knowledge, and equipment) for the schools and hospitals where they trained or had their initial deployments.
For Zambia, while there are some citizens in the diaspora making contributions, the impact is insignificant in view of the diaspora population which keeps growing.
It is however worth noting that many in the diaspora are interested in investing in the country but say they do not how to go about it and where to start from.
The launch of the diaspora policy will therefore give all those in the diaspora an opportunity to come back and invest in their motherland.
Vice-President Inonge Wina’s call for those in the diaspora to come and invest in the country is therefore timely. It is hoped that our brothers and sisters for whom the message is intended will take heed.
Mrs Wina emphasised the need, and justifiably so, for the diaspora to plough back investments to help fast-track economic growth and contribute to employment creation.
As rightly noted by the Vice-President, Zambia can develop if the expertise of all Zambians spread across the globe is fully utilised.
“I am aware that our friends in India have successfully earned know-how and worldwide competitive advantage in information and communications technologies mainly due to its diaspora citizens who ploughed back investments from Silicon Valley in America to jump-start successful high-tech companies, industries and smart cities that are employing many youth,” Mrs Wina said.
Certainly such initiatives, if emulated and properly harnessed by our Zambian diaspora, could be pivotal in supporting the country’s economic prosperity and global competitiveness.
It is good that Government is cognisant of the fact that all Zambians, irrespective of where they are in the world, remain citizens who need to be cared for and treasured as key human capital needed for the country’s development agenda as stated in the Seventh National Development Plan 2017-2021.
This is why Government has been working to incorporate the Zambian diaspora in the country’s development equation.
In 2017, Government implemented the dual citizenship clause as a way of ensuring that the country does not lose out on its citizens who had acquired citizenship of other countries.
And now Government has launched the diaspora policy to create a platform on which those in the diaspora can contribute to development back home.
With the policy in place, it is hoped that Zambians living in the diaspora, for whom the document is intended, will embrace it and ensure that they begin to impact Zambia more, and positively.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joe Malanji is also on point on the need for Zambians in the diaspora to be patriotic.
It is only through patriotism that those living abroad will be compelled to invest in the country as well as use their privileged positions and locations to market it.

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