The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) has hailed the diaspora engagement policy, saying it will woo more Malawians living abroad to regularly remit home significant amounts of foreign exchange towards personal and national development projects.
RBM director of communication and protocol Mbane Ngwira said this in an interview yesterday when commenting on the government’s draft Malawi Diaspora Engagement Policy that seeks to encourage Malawians in the diaspora to fully take part in national development.
The policy, whose ground work started in 2012, is spearheaded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in collaboration with relevant ministries such as Finance, Economic Planning and Development and entities like RBM.
Ngwira said there are signs that Malawians in the diaspora are responding positively to the plan, over which there have been consultations and meetings on how it should be crafted to give a win-win situation to citizens and their country.
He said in the past, the officially recorded remittances amounted to around K1.4 billion ($2 million) per month, adding that as the policy is now showing the Malawians the many ways they can benefit by remitting funds home through official channels, the amount has jumped to more than K12.1 billion ($17 million) every month from last November,
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davis Sado said the diaspora plan can be a game changer in bringing significant forex to Malawi.
He said: “The plan does bring a ray of hope in wooing more Malawians to use it by utilising official remittance channels. We are likely to get better results as the plan is rolled out to more people.”
Speaking at a recent diaspora consultative meeting in Kenya where he met with about 60 Malawians living there, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Emmanuel Fabiano pleaded with the gathering to contribute to the country in any way possible.
He said government had come up with the policy to facilitate a better linkage between citizens abroad and national development.
Said the minister: “The policy acknowledges the great potential that the Malawi diaspora has in terms of skills, investment capital, and ideas in the development of Malawian economy.”
The citizens in diaspora can benefit the country in terms of remittances, and also working as ambassadors to sell the country to the outside world for tourism and general investment. Countries such as Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya are among few in Africa that are reaping benefits from diaspora engagement.
According to World Bank statistics, diaspora remittances to developing countries are estimated to have reached $429 billion in 2016 and expected to reach $450 billion in 2017, which is more than double the official development aid remitted to these countries. A large part of these savings is held in bank deposits, which can significantly contribute to developing countries’ development.
Cabinet approved the Malawi Diaspora Engagement Policy last year.