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Zimbabweans Living Abroad Sending Home US$490 Million Annually Says IFAD

The estimate is a much larger figure than the government’s estimate of US$160 in funds during 2009.

Although remittances from Zimbabweans abroad are a big factor in festive season cash shortages as money transfers are converted by banks into dollar and rand banknotes, such inflows are a key economic driver all year round.

Zimbabweans in the diaspora now send home some US$490 million a year, a much larger figure than the government’s estimate of US$160 million in funds during 2009, says the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Economist Prosper Chitambara said there are big differences in estimates because much comes into the country through informal means.

Chitambara told VOA Studio 7 that diaspora remittances have provided Zimbabwean families with a kind of social safety net.

South African-based Ben Chofamba said he supports his mother and other family members back home. He sends cash through informal channels to avoid bank charges and also ships groceries.

Meanwhile, as most Zimbabweans celebrate Christmas on Saturday, some won't be able to be with their families this festive season due to transport blues and shortages of cash.

However, Father William Guri of the Roman Catholic Church in Harare said this Christmas will be better than in previous years.