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The Global Benefits of Online Transfers in Zimbabwe – Guardian Nigeria

Byline: By Susan Sitemere, Country Manager, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, WorldRemit

HARARE, Zimbabwe, 23 November, 2022,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- A combination of rapidly evolving technology and the restrictions imposed by the COVID -19 pandemic has resulted in nothing short of a revolution in the online money transfer sector.

Globally, there have been drastic shifts in how people pay for goods and services, with electronic payments increasingly displacing traditional cash and more recently, cryptocurrency and digital currencies emerging in the market1.

In Zimbabwe, the use of mobile money has become pivotal to the way that citizens interact and exchange money during the pandemic. The number of active mobile money subscribers in the country increased from 4.05 million to 4.13 million in 20222. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, mobile money interactions witnessed a steady upward trend with average monthly growth of 21% and 16% in volumes and values2. This movement has been truly significant at all levels of society, with users taking advantage of the rapidly evolving technologies of mobile wallets and contactless cards to make payments and move their money around the globe.

According to the World Bank, mobile money accounts drove a massive increase in financial inclusion in Sub – Saharan Africa as two–thirds of adults worldwide now send or receive digital payments, with the share in developing economies increasing from 35% in 2014 to 57% in 20213.

For many in Western society, the acceleration in technology makes for an easier and more convenient experience when dealing with digital remittances. However, for those citizens of emerging countries, the innovation and growth surrounding the global payments sector is resulting in a wide range of benefits.

Digital remittances are a lifeline

Remittances hugely sheltered many Zimbabwean families from the challenging economic situation that COVID-19 brought over the last few years, with remittances sent to Zimbabwe surging from about US$ 1 billion in 2020 to US$1.4 billion in 2021. The country also hit record-high foreign currency inflows of US$9.7 billion during that period.

With statistics like that, it is essential that adequate systems are put in place to make money transfers a secure and straightforward procedure. Online money transfers help countries gain financial inclusion in emerging markets, thus improving economic development and alleviating poverty.

Banking for the unbanked

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the number of financially included Zimbabweans reached 83% this year, with about 12.45 million now on banking platforms through various systems, including mobile money. This comes after 14 tough years for Zimbabweans, who first grappled with domestic currency shortages before the local currency crashed in 20085.

Until recently, migrant communities faced several stressful challenges when sending money abroad. Long queues, unfamiliar paperwork, and sky-high fees were usual hurdles at the beginning of a transfer that could take weeks to process. Once the money had finally reached its destination, the recipients needed access to banks or shops to collect their cash.

Today, with digital payment services like WorldRemit, people can receive money in a matter of minutes through airtime top-ups, cash pick up, and transfers to their EcoCash mobile wallets. 

These options that allow people to choose how to receive their money are essential in countries like Zimbabwe here in sub-Saharan Africa, where a significant proportion of the population remains unbanked. 

Fortunately, this choice is facilitated by a boom in cheap and widely available smartphones that allow consumers and small enterprises to transfer money at the touch of a button seamlessly. Aided by FinTech vision and investment, Africa has become a world leader in mobile money. Again, the economic upshift facilitated by the new technology has contributed to a drop in the number of households living in poverty.

A safe and convenient service

Digital payments service, WorldRemit uses industry-leading technology to enhance protection for online money transfers. This technology is also swift, meaning that most transfers are ready within minutes.

The increase in secure digital remittances, especially mobile-to-mobile transfers, has lowered the need for cash transactions. Consequently, opportunistic crime in many cash-heavy markets has been reduced, however, cybercrime remains a very present threat, which money transfer companies must work hard to combat.

Moving forward together

The transition to digital payments and online money transfers has positively impacted migrant communities and emerging countries. This transition has made the process of sending remittances easier and more secure. It has also lowered the barriers to financial inclusion in emerging countries by allowing people without bank accounts to receive money quickly.

By offering flexible ways of sending and receiving money, more people worldwide can access financial services and ultimately free themselves from the manacles of poverty.

Find out how WorldRemit can help you move your money around with online digital payments.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of WorldRemit.

Notes to Editors

1.   Chambers and partners. Fintech 2022. March 2022

2.   ITWeb Mobile money gains traction in Zimbabwe – despite regulatory wrangling. Feb 2022

3.   World Bank Group. Covid – 19 Drives Global Surge in use of Digital Payments. June 2022

4.   Press Reader. Business Weekly Zimbabwe. June 2022

5.   Press Reader. Markets warm up to financial inclusion strategy. August 2022

About WorldRemit

We’re a leading global payments company and, along with Sendwave, part of Zepz, a group powering two global payments brands. 

We disrupted an industry previously dominated by offline legacy players by taking international money transfers online – making them safer, faster and lower cost. We currently send from 50 countries to recipients in 130 countries, operate in more than 5,000 money transfer corridors worldwide and employ over 1,200 people globally.

On the sending side WorldRemit is 100% digital (cashless), increasing convenience and enhancing security. For those receiving money, the company offers a wide range of options including bank deposit, cash collection, mobile airtime top-up and mobile money.

Backed by Accel, TCV and Leapfrog – WorldRemit’s headquarters are in London, United Kingdom with regional offices around the world.

www.worldremit.com

Media Contact

WorldRemit Press Office

media@worldremit.com

The post The Global Benefits of Online Transfers in Zimbabwe appeared first on African Media Agency.

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Biden: Willing to Talk to Putin About Ending War in Ukraine – VOA Zimbabwe

WHITE HOUSE AND WASHINGTON —

U.S. President Joe Biden raised the possibility Thursday of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin to negotiate an end to Moscow’s war against Ukraine but said he had yet to see any willingness on Putin’s part to halt his 10-month invasion.

“I’m prepared to talk to Putin but only in consultation with NATO allies,” Biden said at a White House news conference after holding several hours of private talks with French President Emmanuel Macron about Ukraine and other issues. “I have no immediate plans to contact Mr. Putin. I’m not going to do it on my own.”

“There’s one way for this war to end, Putin to pull out of Ukraine,” Biden said. “It’s sick what he’s doing. If he’s looking for a way to end the war, he hasn’t done that.”

Macron said he was confident the U.S. would continue to support Ukraine with more military and humanitarian assistance.

“It’s about our values,” the French leader said. “Having the U.S. support Ukraine … is very important.”

Biden said the U.S. “will never ask Ukraine to compromise” to end the war without the consent of the Kyiv government.

Earlier, before their private discussions, Biden said as he welcomed Macron for the first state visit of a foreign leader during his presidency, “France and the United States are facing down Vladimir Putin’s ambition.”

“The alliance between our two nations remains essential for our defense,” Biden said. “The U.S. could not ask for a better partner than France.” He described France as “our oldest ally and unwavering partner in freedom’s cause.”

Macron, speaking on a sunny but chilly morning in Washington, said, “As war returns to European soil with Russian aggression against Ukraine, and in light of the multiple crises facing our nations and societies, we need to become brothers-in-arms once more.”

He said Washington and Paris “share the same faith in freedom and democratic values.”

While agreeing on their determination to support Ukraine, Macron expressed sharp concerns to Biden about the U.S. leader’s Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, approved by Congress earlier this year that provides billions of dollars to support the U.S. clean energy industry, and a separate measure that bolsters U.S. semiconductor manufacturers.

Macron told congressional leaders Wednesday that the measure was “super aggressive” toward European companies.

“The consequence of the IRA is that you will perhaps fix your issue, but you will increase my problem,” he said, noting that France makes “exactly the same products as you.”

At the news conference, Biden said the legislation was “never intended to exclude” European trading partners. “We’re back in business,” he said of U.S. economic advances. “Europe is back in business.”

Macron said, “France wants the same new manufacturing jobs.”

Biden acknowledged that some aspects of the legislation might need to be tweaked, as he put it, and said he was confident that U.S. and European negotiators could work out differences so both the U.S. and European economies can prosper.

The pomp and circumstance of a White House state visit for a foreign leader was on full display, with Biden and first lady Jill Biden greeting Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, and then watching as a band in colonial uniforms played the national anthems of both countries. A 21-gun salute for Macron’s visit rang out.

The two leaders and their wives waved from the White House balcony before Biden and Macron went inside for substantive talks. A state dinner was planned for the evening.

The Bidens took the Macrons to Fiola Mare, an upscale Italian seafood restaurant overlooking the Potomac River, on Wednesday evening.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Bid for more MICE events: ZTA – Zimbabwe Independent

ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority Chief Executive, Ms Winnie Muchanyuka has urged players in the tourism and hospitality players to collaborate with government in bidding for Meetings Incentives Conferences Exhibitions Tourism (MICE) events.

Muchanyuka was speaking at the 2022 edition of the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe Congress which kicked off in Victoria Falls yesterday. 

“I would like to encourage the hospitality industry to continue working closely with the ZTA and other government arms to jointly formulate strategies to bid for more MICE business. We must find strategic ways to collaborate in our quest to promote Zimbabwe as a first choice MICE destination,” said Muchanyuka. 

“There is a lot of potential for us to create more MICE businesses locally. We just need to have a more collaborative approach as a sector. If you look at our statistics for this year, you will find out that MICE contributed quite significantly to the general recovery of the sector.

Muchanyuka said hoteliers have indicated that most of the MICE business was generated from the domestic market which was mostly constituted of government agencies, the corporate sector and nongovernmental organisations.

“MICE business continues to be the dominating force in generating room occupancies for hotels,” she said. 

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Zim traverses globe to reclaim tourism markets – NewsDay

THE battle to reclaim tourism markets have accelerated since governments eased Covid-19 pandemic restrictions this year. In an interview with our business reporter Freeman Makopa (FM) this week, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Mangaliso Ndlovu (MN) tells us the strides the country has made. Below are excerpts of the interview:

FM: What is the outlook for the tourism industry?

MN: Since the beginning of the year, global tourism has continued to exhibit signs of consistent recuperation from the adverse consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Current trends for Zimbabwe have shown recovery, which has been supported by the bouncing back of worldwide inbound travel and growth in domestic tourism.

FM: How has the industry performed this year?

MN: The first nine months of 2022 saw a 165% rise in tourist arrivals. Arrivals increased to 693 498 during the period, from 261 415 during the same period in 2021. This is more than double the number of international arrivals received during the first nine months of 2021.

FM: This means hotel room occupancies have also improved

MN: Yes, on average, occupancies for the first nine months of 2022 grew by 21 percentage points. Occupancies rose from 21% in 2021 to 42% in 2022. Overall, this performance has been reinforced by domestic tourism, which is dominant, contributing 95% of tourism business in 2022.

FM: How has Zimbabwe managed to drum up domestic tourism during this difficult period, economically?

MN: Like any other country, Zimbabwe is traversing through the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the on-going war in Ukraine. These have affected global economies, travel and trade. Given this economic situation, the tourism sector is implementing the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy (TRGS), which is driving the growth of tourism. This is mainly through campaigns to accelerate meetings, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) and domestic tourism. The ZimBho, MeetInZim and InvestInZim campaigns have stimulated domestic and business tourism.

FM: Please share the investment levels into the sector attributable to these campaigns

MN: These campaigns have contributed to tourism growth doubling for January to September 2022 as alluded to earlier. There have been investments totalling US$306,7 million during the period, from US$90,4 million. This was mostly invested into accommodation facilities and vehicle hire.

FM: How do you plan to sustain this growth trajectory?

MN: The tourism sector is guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1, 2021 to 2025 and the TRGS. NDS1 agitates for the growth of the tourism sector through increased investment into diversified products, while TRGS seeks to grow the tourism economy to US$5 billion by 2025. The ministry has the following programmes in place, in its endeavour to achieve the NDS1 goals: product development and diversification, instituting ease of doing business reforms, climate proofing of the tourism sector and establishing a tourism satellite account.

FM: Tell us about the role of the private sector in these initiatives

MN: Zimbabwe’s tourism sector is government-led and private sector driven. The ministry and the private sector already have synergies to promote the country through bilateral agreements signed with other countries in the region and abroad. The ministry is currently implementing memoranda of understanding on cooperation in the field of tourism with South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These provide the public and private sectors the opportunity to jointly market and promote destinations, exchange of programmes for professional in the sector and joint collaboration of private sector associations. Government also supports private sector participation at international travel fairs through subsidising participation fees of operators. The ministry through the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), jointly with the private sector, participates annually at fairs such as World Travel Market in London, International Travel Bourse in Berlin, Germany and Indaba Travel Fair in Durban, South Africa. 

FM: What else is the government doing?

MN: Over and above the synergies, the ministry is establishing market presence in the country’s key tourism source markets. Two tourism attachés were deployed in August and September 2022 to China and the United Arab Emirates. An additional nine tourism attachés were recently appointed and are expected to be deployed in the first quarter of 2023 to Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, India, South Africa, China and Japan. Physical presence in key source markets and the joint synergies with the private sector will aid government in promoting the destination internationally, attracting more tourists to the country.

FM: Tell us about financial support to the industry.

MN: The government of Zimbabwe has put in place several incentives to help the tourism sector. These include duty rebates on capital equipment for use in tourism development zones.  We also have SI 10 of 2022, which spells out rebate on duty for safari vehicles and tour buses and SI 279 of 2019, which spells out rebates in respect of new capital equipment for expansion, modernisation and renovation of hotels and restaurants within hotels.

The funding also supports boat equipment imports, among others. There are also tax breaks in tourism development zones and tax exemptions for investments into the Victoria Falls tourism special economic zone. 

FM: What are the developments on the electricity front, with regards to tourism?

MN: Electricity and water are already subsidised by the government. As a result, Zimbabwe has one of the cheapest utilities in the Sadc region in this respect. The government of Zimbabwe in 2018 launched the National Tourism Masterplan, which is an overarching guide to the development of tourism in Zimbabwe. The master plan identified potential tourism nuggets to grow new tourist attractions in Zimbabwe. The plan has identified 11 tourism development zones in Harare, Eastern Highlands, Chimanimani, Gonarezhou, Limpopo, Great Zimbabwe, Midlands, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Mavhuradonha. Government has put in place incentives to support investments into special economic zones and tourism development zones that investors can take advantage of.

The national tourism policy agitates for an enabling environment to attract investment into the sector. It also uses tourism to attract foreign direct investment into the country. At the same time, the government will ensure the industry is protected from disinvestment through primary and secondary legislation.

FM: Are you happy with accessibility?        

MN: Accessibility is the backbone of the growth of tourism destinations. And air accessibility contributes significantly to the growth of regional and international tourist arrivals to any destination. Air Zimbabwe, therefore, plays a critical role in providing direct access to Zimbabwe from key source markets and an instrumental role in national identity. The airline connects Harare with local destinations such as Victoria Falls. To strengthen the role of Air Zimbabwe in connecting travellers, the government has allowed private sector players such as Fasjet and Kuva Air to fly from Harare to Bulawayo, Victoria Falls and Kariba. We are fully behind the capacitation of the airline and the massive investment in the expansion of the ports of entry.

FM: We have seen more airlines returning to this market. Please share with us what has been happening

MN: The cross-cutting role of infrastructure development, such as the expansion of airports has a huge impact on all sectors of the economy. Airport expansion will boost the country’s growth and transformation in trade and tourism as part of strides. Airport expansion, as seen with at Victoria Falls International Airport, will attract new aircrafts and airlines.

The expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport saw African airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Air Botswana, Fastjet, Airlink and Kenya Airways increasing flight frequencies to the resort town.

It also attracted new airlines like Eurowings from Germany and Mack Air from Botswana.

This also increased the airport’s passenger handling capacity from 500 000 a year to about 1,5 million. 

Expansion will, therefore increase regional and international tourist arrivals into the country, tourism receipts and the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product as well as attainment of the US$ 5billion tourism sector by 2025.

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