The Sunday Mail
Since as a country we host so many expatriates during the festive season, I thought it would be appropriate to expand on how this important constituency plays a role in our technological and economic progress.
The statistics are instructive.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) estimates that there are approximately one million Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
Non-resident Zimbabweans also remitted US$1.4 billion in 2021, up from US$1 billion a year ago.
It is clear that this part cannot be ignored.
If anything, we need to harness its capabilities, and I make special mention of technological advancement.
Economicdiscussion.net advises that 58 percent of adults believed that the Internet was essential during the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
This emphasizes the importance of technological and digital developments.
Our expatriates have an important role to play here, being exposed to cutting-edge technology.
It is estimated that technology contributes at least 28 percent of the average annual growth globally.
To reinforce the point, computer speed and power doubled every one and a half to two years from the 1960s to the 1970s!
We realized it too late.
I remember, in the 90s, students used to go to typists to do assignments.
It’s laughable now, but that was the reality.
Students now have laptops and other gadgets that they use for assignments and research purposes.
As we keep up with technology, expats can significantly help and contribute immensely to our progress.
We have many Zimbos (as we call ourselves) spread all over the world.
South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Australia, China, India and Botswana to mention a few, all Zimbabweans.
The advantages here are easy to identify.
Zimbabweans are exposed to global standards in many ways.
Keeping our people attuned to the latest technologies.
We also have our own foreign currency savings.
We all know that sometimes we don’t need to reinvent the wheel but learn how other nations and countries are doing it.
We also know that we adapt said technologies in some cases to suit our particular circumstances.
We have Zimbabweans who have left this country as students to pursue their education.
They have acquired critical and indispensable skills.
They mingled with other nations.
They are also our ambassadors.
Some have even worked in host countries, gaining valuable international exposure in the process.
There are others of us who have left this country specifically in search of greener pastures when they have sought employment outside this country, where higher wages can be an attraction or a luring factor.
Generally, others have also benefited from their relatives who have found bases outside this country.
But home will always be home.
One feels completely at home when one is in one’s own country.
The sacrifices made by expatriates are remarkable.
You have to make sure that you reap maximum benefits from them.
Technology has drastically changed the way things are done.
A few examples will drive the point home.
Agricultural processes have been turned on their heads.
Improvements in soil fertility, weather forecasting, interventions in training, and the use of drones have all contributed to increased production.
In the case of health, technological interventions are quite obvious.
They range from surgical operations to early cancer detection, which improve health and well-being.
Not to mention enabling communication.
Mining has also been transformed.
Where miners have traditionally used guesswork to identify mineral deposits, there are now technologies that can easily locate the mineral and its quantum in any area.
This obviously reduces costs and saves a critical resource called time.
Feasibility studies have become seamless.
These are examples of the wonders of technology.
This is where our expatriates benefit.
They are subjected to such practices on a large scale.
They have acquired skills and work with sophisticated equipment.
They also work, some of them daily, using state-of-the-art technology.
So the problem is: How can we get the best out of them?
We have always heard about the need for skill transfer from foreign investors and the need for locals to learn from foreigners.
Or is it the need for foreign capital to ensure indigenous capacity?
That’s all good.
But our expatriates are also playing a critical and more active role in ensuring that a wider section of the local population benefits from their knowledge, skills and exposure. Nothing is lost by one candle burning another! We appreciate what our universities are doing.
They introduce new products and services using some cutting-edge technologies.
It should be like this.
Innovation hubs have revolutionized our higher education institutions.
We also have highly talented expatriates who have benefited from education and experiences across borders and seas.
They are repositories of many skills and knowledge.
We get the most out of them.
We must come up with initiatives that deepen our talent base and capacity.
Again, they must be willing players, or beginners.
The upper-middle-income economy envisioned by Vision 2030 will certainly emerge, aided by the adoption of new technologies.
Indeed, expatriates working with government and other key stakeholders can find ways and means to ensure this happens.
Nyika Inowakwa Nevene Wayo!
I believe in God!