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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Tanzanian Diaspora Remittances Rank Lowest in East Africa, Sparking Dual Citizenship Debate

EDITOR'S NOTE

Hi there 👋🏼,

This week, Zaminna brings you an exploration of the vibrant cultural festivals across the globe that celebrate African heritage.‍

Chief Editor, Zaminna

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A recent World Bank report has unveiled Tanzania's position as the second-to-last East African nation in receiving remittances from its diaspora, raising concerns about the government's stance on dual citizenship. The report, reflecting 2023 data, reveals that Tanzania received approximately Sh829 billion from its citizens abroad, Kenya leading the region at Sh10.53trillion.

Tanzania's low remittance figures are attributed to the lack of official recognition for Tanzanians living abroad. Activist Liberatus Mwang'ombe in the U.S. highlights a sentiment among the diaspora, citing a sense of under valuation by the government. He argues that the absence of dual citizenship rights and perceived legislative neglect deter meaningful investments.

While Bank of Tanzania Governor Emmanuel Tutuba acknowledges a smaller diaspora population and limited financial capacity, he sees a positive future with eased conditions for opening bank accounts. The recent launch of the Diaspora Digital Hub aims to identify Tanzanians abroad and their skills, fostering a stronger connection.

Tanzania Diaspora director, Kevin Nyamori, emphasizes the need for ambassadors to be aware of the diaspora's size and skills. Nyamori suggests recognizing and awarding ambassadors contributing to economic diplomacy.

In response to growing concerns over Tanzania's diaspora remittance trends, Hon. Mbelwa Kairuki, the High Commissioner to the UK, has publicly acknowledged the challenges faced by Tanzanians abroad, particularly in terms of citizenship status. Kairuki highlights the need for a comprehensive reevaluation of existing laws that mandate the renunciation of Tanzanian citizenship when acquiring foreign citizenship, advocating for legal reforms to establish a special status for Tanzanians living abroad.

The significance of the diaspora's remittances is crucial not only for the individuals and families receiving financial support but also for the overall economic development of the home country. Countries worldwide have experienced substantial positive impacts from the contributions of their diaspora communities. For instance, India and China have seen tremendous economic growth propelled by significant remittance inflows, playing a pivotal role in poverty alleviation and infrastructure development.

Remittances from the diaspora contribute to foreign exchange reserves, stimulate local businesses, and enhance financial inclusion. In many cases, diaspora communities serve as important conduits for introducing foreign investments, fostering economic partnerships, and transferring valuable skills and knowledge back to their home countries.

Recognizing these benefits, Tanzania's consideration of a special status for its diaspora in 2024 signifies a proactive step towards harnessing the potential economic, social, and cultural contributions of its citizens abroad. The move aligns with global best practices, where nations with vibrant diaspora engagement have often thrived economically.

As the government signals its commitment to acknowledging the diaspora's special status, there is an emerging opportunity for Tanzanians abroad to play an even more integral role in the nation's development. The establishment of legal frameworks that encourage dual citizenship and provide incentives for the diaspora to actively participate in national activities can be a transformative step for Tanzania, mirroring successful models witnessed in various countries across the globe.

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