Why the Government needs to tap into the Potential of Zambians living in the Diaspora

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A Zambian family at Robben Island in Capetown RSA

By Daimone Siulapwa

According to the latest World Bank’s Migration and Remittances Fact Book (2011), remittance flow worldwide were estimated to reach US$440 billion by the end of 2010, up from US$416 in 2009. About 75% of these funds or US$325 billion will and goes to developing countries, up from US$307 Billion in 2009.

Zambia in 2009, received an estimated US$68 million in remittances from those living in Diaspora through formal channels. What this entails is that there are more funds that come through informal channels that are not captured on record. With well structured systems that offers incentives for investments, Zambians living in Diaspora can become a giant investor in realizing our Zambia’s development agenda.

In the recent past, the line has been drawn and clearly acknowledged that Zambians living in Diaspora can contribute immensely to the development of our country given a well structured advocacy strategy that demands that government tap into the capital of the huge Zambian Diaspora population worldwide by offering them incentives to invest back home.

There is no doubt many Zambians in the Diaspora would like to invest back home, if anything over 70% would like at some time to return home and settle. This as maybe the case, there are NO clear policies by our government that help the integration of our fellow countrymen and women back into our society.

The challenges faced by the Zambians in Diaspora in regard to investing home ranges from, dual citizenship to right to vote, lack of land ownership to lack of business incentives, cultural shock to legal and political hitches etc. With these multi-faceted challenges there is a need for the government to go the extra mile in helping our brothers and sisters address these critical matters of life that could change Zambia for the better.

It is also possible to have a Diaspora think tank. Realizing the immerse skills as obtained by the Zambians living in Diaspora it is imperative that ideas born from them should find their way to government for consideration and implementation. This program should ensure that every year policies or development documents or papers are submitted to the government. Most of these documents should be done in consultation with the government now that they have a Diaspora Liaison Office at the Office of the President. How neutral the Diaspora office at State House is, I will leave that for you to find out.

We all know that the changes that take place every day in Zambia can have a negative impact on those visiting, especially those that have not been home for a long time. Many people find themselves lost when they get back to Zambia coupled with stigmatization and over expectance from the public, family members, friends and the community, this leads to shock and being lost in your own country. There is need for these people to be orientated when they come or before they travel by providing sufficient information.

The other biggest challenge is that of legal documentation considering the time they have to spend here and the processes of documentation in our county. It is important that government formulates a way to help them access legal documentation in the shortest period of time. These legal documentations could range from National Registration Cards to passports, drivers license to resident/work permit for spouses including company registration.

Why can’t Zambians have dual citizenship? This component has received massive support from different stakeholders and is being considered in the new draft constitution; however, there is need for advocacy and strong voices to build a well structured campaign around this theme. This should not be a privilege but a right for those living in Diaspora

The government should also offer business incentives for Zambians in the Diaspora willing to invest back home. This is one of the biggest challenges that need to be faced boldly. Government should ensure that they are incentives that promote investment for citizens in their own country and make sure that Zambians living in Diaspora can easily access and own land. The Business incentive could include tax exemption i.e. on machinery for those setting up industries. This in partnership with other institutions will be one of the forces to building a better Zambia

34 COMMENTS

  1. The challenge is to initiate institutional links in addressing issues affecting us Zambians living abroad. I would like to see more from govt introducing tax exemption on Equipment land acquisition and the duo nationality. I’ve lived overseas for ten year and I’ve seen enough frustrations among Zambians struggle just about anything from passport renewal, drivers license National ID etc. Again we feel very aggravated how ZRA official hound us with all kinds of taxes and custom duties on our hard earned machinery and equipment.

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  2. This is long overdue..but as usual ZAMBIANS..I MEAN LOCAL ZAMBIANS lack seriousness..sorry i mean ZAMBIAN PORITICIANS LACK ……..well let me go and watch ZNBC..OOH MY….DSTV!!

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  3. I’m going to Zambia after quite a while this April.I’m looking forward to it but as days draw closer I’m stressed at the expectations of my relatives back home.They all expect me to bring lots of presents for them.Some expect money…. I probably have to bribe someone to help me get a passport quickly for my toddler.My husband then needs to renew his driving licence–kaching kaching—more $$$$ to spend.Anyhow I still look forward to going home and partaking of the Zambian cuisine! I wonder is it rude to stay in a hotel/guesthouse or inconvenience relatives and or friends.Obviously when I visit my parents in the village I’ll stay with them but in the cities I’m not too keen in boarding with cousins I haven’t seen in ages -who might be inconvenienced.

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  4. Latest. National Movement for Progress Party (NMPP) has appointed Ng’andu Magande as Interem President.

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  5. Good evening

    This is not about politics at all. It’s about oness. It is simply vital for the government to harness the input from the Diasporans. I don’t have any figures but given that the number of Zambians living abroad is permanently increasing, the issues raised in the article will be more and more relevant whenever we are talking about the development of our motherland.

    Like #1 has already pointed out, we need proper links and networks. Our government must find ways of institutionalising relations with the Diasporans. Particular attention needs to be paid to connecting with teenagers, students and graduates of Zambian descent. They have a fundamental role to play in the future development of our nation.

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  6. Any country that neglects its expatriate citizens does so at the risk of under development. I have visited several non-Zambians who were expatriates in Zambia in the 70s and 80s with ZCCM or GRZ in the UK and they have all made an impact on the UK economy from what they earned in Zambia. Some have million pound houses with mortgages already paid up because of their foreign earnings. People always look down on citizens of a poorer country going to a richer country as ‘economic migrants.’ But, it is economic migrants that build wealth everywhere in the world, whether in the adopted country or the country of their birth. The sooner Zambians learn to accept migration as a natural process in humans, the better.

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  7. Every now and then one hears words like, ‘You guys come back home and develop your country.’ This is like when one is abroad, they are not contributing to development, but the statistic that Daimone has quoted clearly shows that there is a significant contribution to the economy. $68 million can build 2 brand new and state of the art hospitals. The only problem is that most of this cash goes into the hands of relatives who think lightly about spending it. ‘Easy come, easy go’ and ‘there must be more where this came from.’

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  8. THIS REMINDS OF HOW A FRIEND JOINED HANDS with 2 other nationals to set up a money transfer business (in order to compete with exorbitant western union). The poor guy could not secure a license from bank of zambia. and the ambassador in UK really frustrated him, too. His colleagues got those documents in no time. So, in short there was no branch in zambia but 2 branches in the other 2 countries of the 2 other nationals. Zambia was protecting Western Union while sh.it.ing on their own son. Thru this company Zambians would have just been too happy to send money and encourage their brother. A few pipo who know this gentleman know about this story- he refused to succumb to bribing them.

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  9. We’ve listened to these songs many times and they have become an irritant to our ears. We in the diaspora are segregated by the politicians. Look at the presidential clause…If you have lived outside Zambia for more than 10 years you do not qualify even if you are a citizen born in Zambia. Foreign investors ship equipment into our country for free but we the owners of the country are charged high taxes. If really the government is serious about people living in diaspora and their contribution to national development, they should not only be seen to be committed but act on important issues like: Tax exemptions, and Land ownership to mention but a few.,

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  10. Dual Citizenship is the key. The more opportunities Zambians in Diaspora have, the more beneficial they are to Zambia – Winning!

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  11. Zambia is one of the most free markets in the world. No one stops anyone from investing back home except swindlers who have specialised in eating diaspora money.

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  12. There’s really nothing special about us diasporans.Becoming one of “the haves” is more about the zeal in you not your location.The misconception in Zed of those abroad having money and in the west that everyone is poor in developing countries needs to change.I have seen lots of poor Americans who can’t help their situation due to their way of thinking or approach.On the other hand you got lots of Asians and Msungu’s in poor Zed who “have it” Truth is in Zed we’re poor due to our approach not our location.We need to tap into any zedian with potential regardless of location.Being in the diaspora does not in itself make one “a potential”

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  13. #14 ya you have made me laugh. have been swindled before. ya but you have made laugh mwe!

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  14. How I was swindled, by a former classmate now an ACCA living in zed. We came up with a business idea to supply the mines. Him been a mine accountant, I thought was an advantage. I made some few contacts here in Aussie with some huge mine suppliers and they were all happy with my idea. So my job here was done. So what we required was a company and my good friend asked for the money to register one. I sent just US$200 and the company was no where but stories, I cried and heart really hurt upto now. If we started the business running we would have made lots by now. But he stole just the little 2 zali. Just be carefure with Zambians.

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  15. @11 Peter.
    Maybe his friends in zed did nothing to convince the BOZ. I learnt a lesson a hard way. Just never take some of zedians serious. Remember the story of the singer Anna mwale who they said stole are own chickens. The best go home and see and try to move things here and there. We need dual citizenship because it will make things even easy.

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  16. @ 11 peter, z is full of stories like that. Here this one: This guy tries to bring in new equipment for major internet across z, we are talking huge transmitter towrs, settlites etc, it gets stuck in south africa cause zambians wont provide permit for it to come in. He is in partnership with american , british etc, there is no problem on there side just the zambian side. And countless more stories like that.
    I think progress is retrogressive to thepeople in top positions in z , cause it wil inevitably lead to some pressure to be accountable for what the do and dont do, and they want to be accountable to no one. So encourage terrible conditions that are conducive for corruption and chaos. To get a simple form online to apply for passports is impossible sure, to get ANY govt form onlin

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  17. Regarding thinktanks… its not really the lack of ideas that are keeping zambia back , its terrible resistance at multiple levels to any sort of progressive ideas that have worked elsewhere in the world. One can get carried away living a bit out of zambia, thinking you can go back and change things back home… change how they think or do things, just to realize you will NEVER change ANYTHING. Just send your money to a reliable relative so some kids can go to school or something, dont hope for too much.

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  18. Alifwala ******* kwati nimpanya. Anyway thus the problem of living in Diaspora, no chance for a man to have a girl friend and the wife also has no extra affairs too, so everytime kupya game. Ine pa zed i spare my wife through GF’S and we plan our family well

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  19. whats the matter here??? come’on guys are we not strong enough to build zambia to the next level? we have made it without them, who need their help anyway?? they decided to leave let them build europe or america… am contributing tax thus helping someone out there and to the development of this nation… nothin special bout them…. lets stop thinkin low?? this is our country and it belongs to those who have it in their own hands…not disporans? NO NO NO

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  20. Zambia andzambians is the only country i have seen that hate their own people.If yougo to SAfrica you are kwerekwere but if any foregner comes to Zambia he/she is given a red carpet.Even in gvt its the same thing look atthe mines exemptions in everything.Am sure if they were bought by a zambian the gvt would have increased tax three times by now.Look at the Chinese who shot at Zambians am sure they are now regarded as heroes for shooting zambians.So the point is zambians in the diaspora will always have problems unless this mentality and attitude changes

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  21. We need to change and be proud of our country and our people.I hear now some people give children nigerian names from those Nigerian movies, can the same happen anywhere else?We need to love our own people because thats all we have

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  22. #25 Every Zambian whether in Zambia on Zambia soil or in Diaspora has a right to vote and he’s entitled for all the rights and his/her freedom. People like you are the one’s stealing money through the dirty politics of Zambia. Every Zambian in Diaspora has a choice to choose where they can live and better his/her life. If you want get out of Zambia and move to Malawi. Zambia is for everyone who are contributing through the right channels. Maybe you some higher or post graduate education to understand economics. Now i know why there are so many INDOSHI , and you see like you can do bad magic on someone from diaspora.

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  23. the majority of zambians are illegal aliens and willneva come back to zambia. they die in USA and are buried in unmarked graves. very few zambians in diaspora are engaged in decent jobs most are casuals. we have few profesionals esp docs and nurses in UK, USA and australia. the majority do demeaning jobs like cleaning train wagons, washing dishes, picking fruits in orchards, looking after the aged changing diapers namatebela. they get very little money which goes back to paying bills so i do not expect these poor zambians to make any meaningful contributions to our economy. the western economy has a fixed system were when you are a worker you cannot make a saving to invest in business. they pay you enough to look after your imidiate needs. its in zambia were some pipo get abnormal wages

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  24. SHAZZA
    A job is a job. It is more honourable to work than not to. This silly mentality about ‘demeaning Jobs’ is what has brought Zambia to a pretty pass. Thousands of Zambians sit at home on their back sides claiming ‘I am a school leaver therefore I can’t work as kaboyi.’ Let him who does not work not eat. Did you know that Keanu Reeves used to wash cars? Dustin Hofman was a janitor!

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  25. #30 THE SAINT YES A JOB IS A JOB I RESPECT THAT BUT FOR ONE TO SPEND MILLIONS OF KWACHA AND TRAVEL THOUSANDS OF MILES JUST TO GO AND CLEAN AN AARSE OF MUZUNGU BEATS ME. THE BLACK AMERICANS SAY THEY CANT CLEAN NO WHITE MANS ARSSE AND THATS A JOB LEFT FOR THE ILLEGAL ALIEN WHO GETS PAID UNDER THE TABLE OR WORKS ON A FAKE NAME USING A FAKE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. IS THAT WHAT YOU MEAN THE SAINT AT #30

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  26. #25 tell us how much tax you’ve paid that you are harking about??? Tell us about the development that you have initiated. Though interesting to note that you only seem to have awoken to the fact that you can develop Z now – seems you couldn’t see the log in your eye, but the speck in the diasporan’s eye becoz they are trying to offer a way to help mother Z!

    I wonder who has worked harder between yourself & those in the diaspora( i.e. supposing your wealth is not ill-gotten)

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  27. @30, THE SAINT:

    I can add one more name to your well articulated post at #30. The now rich and famous WHOOPIE GOLDBERGE was a mortician (washing/dressing dead bodies) before she became what she is now!!

    So, SHAZZA, get off your “high-horse” and encourage those who are earning an honest living and helping their relatives back home any way they can. They may not afford capital investments such as huge minning equipment, but they are indeed contributing through remitances, alright!!

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  28. @31, SHAZZA:

    I think you a very misinformed person about immigration and immigrants especially in USA. How do you expect immigrants who just moves up to the US to become professors, doctors, engineers, extra?! How is that possible?

    Look, before Zambians, it was Italians, Irish, Chines, Koreans, Japanese, Germans, Mexicans, Jews extra. If you look at the progression of all these immigrant groups in America, you will very quickly realise one simple fact; they all started at the bottom and worked their way up the economic ladder. And now you have some very rich Jews (e.g. Steven Spielberg), Irish (Bill Clinton), and others who are now movers and shakers in America. Sure, it may have been too late for their parents, but national or generation betterment is not for myopic thinkers!

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