Zimbabweans abroad sent home US$388 million in the first three months of the year, 29% more than they did over the same period last year, central bank data shows.
Cash coming in from NGOs rose 25% to US$241.6 million.
The jump in diaspora remittances followed increased use of formal banking channels due to the pandemic.
The US$630 million total remittances figure – from diaspora and aid agencies – beats what Zimbabwe earned from gold, one of the country’s highest export earners. In the first quarter of 2022, gold exports rose to US$463.1 million, up from US$207.2 million over the same period last year.
The increase in diaspora remittances extends the upward trend over the past two years. In 2021, Diaspora remittances rose 42.7% to US$1.47 billion.
In 2020, formal diaspora remittances amounted to US$1 billion, up 58% from the previous year. The increases have partly reflected how COVID-19 border lockdowns limited informal money transfer channels.
South Africa, host to Zimbabwe’s largest non-resident population, accounts for 40% of all formal remittances into Zimbabwe, according to a report by FinMark. Before the pandemic, the FinMark study estimated that as many as 68% of all remittances to Zimbabwe from South Africa were via informal channels.