Firstly I would like to commend Central Bank of Kenya (Official) ( No idea why page is not verified) , CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge who shared the results of 1st ever diaspora remittance survey. Thank you Wallace Kantai we know you did alot of work in the background and thank you for the periodic invites to CBKs update
Now instead of media Kenya interrogating and analyzing this hard to get stats one of the dailies used a half page to whine about how mothers are the biggest recipients of the funds and how father are way below even sisters. While that may true we are simply missing out to look at the bigger picture .
Firstly please join me to congratulate wholeheartedly Kenyans in the diaspora who have NOT forgotten home and their kins.
Let a few facts sink in:
In 2021 Kenyans in the diaspora remitted Ksh420 Billion to Kenya roughly $3.8B . Folks that is alot of money. Kibaki in 2003 had a budget hardly Ksh350B
In 2021 my beloved tourism industry raked in Ksh142 B and even in our good year pre Covid we managed just about Ksh170B
Tea industry raked in just about Ksh130B while flower industry managed to bring in some Ksh 72B
In 2021 just after a terrible Covid hit 2020 for diaspora to remit such an amount which beats hands down Tourism, tea , flowers et al is something we ought to be celebrating.
Now on bigger picture Africa Nigeria is leading managing to deliver 4 times Kenyas remittance at $17B but we tie with Ghana and beat all others hands down including Zim and Senegal who have a high population out there in the diaspora. Nigerians are more than whole of East Africa out together in the diaspora.
While Nigeria and Ghana would benefit heavily from professionals sports like football Kenya on the other are mainly professionals in corporate world and leading the pack in banking , insurance, health and ICT. Sadly it also means brain drain but again we would rather have them out there as opposed to let languish here at home in average jobs.
What did our media miss ?
- Source of information to invest in Kenya hit him clearly , surely GOK is a paltry 2% yet we have Ministry of foreign affairs and above all so many bodies that purport to attract investors. If you are not talking to Kenyans who are they talking to ? Kenyans in the diaspora are then left to depend on families and friends for info and guess what social media like right here on this platform
- Media also missed out to pick the fact that Kenyans in the diaspora lack official place on the high table yet they are head to head with FDI where we always lay a thick red carpet for them and a visit to staw house to boot not to mention state dinner or some banquet luncheon .
- One other bit that media Kenya ought to interrogate is the high remittance fees at 8% yet rest of the world are on 4% and lower not to mention the exchange rate that is never anything fair. These are the pain areas that ought to be the FOCUS of our media.
What is the way forward?
- While I commend GOK and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC) for finaling helping 6 or so countries to vote for President in 2022 I believe we can do more and we should . It is still a drop in the ocean and we cannot say we love your remittance but you have no say in matters governance in Kenya.
- We must give Kenyans in the diaspora official position and space to articulate their issues. Folks these guys contribute highest forex if anything they own the ICU or HDU where Kenya shilling was admitted since last year. If they decided to pull the plug trust me our schilling will go down the drain.
- How about Ministry of Diaspora, Foreign affairs and International relations. Then appoint a PS to look after the Diaspora docket and even better encourage one of their own to come back home to take that role . Please dont appoint some villager who has never worked worked abroad.
- One of the easiest ways to spread your footprint across the world is through Honorary consuls. Right here in Mombasa we have close to 15 Kenyans representing the interests of countries like Canada, UK, Rwanda, Norway, Germany et al.
Why is Kenya not officially appointing Kenyans say in 15 cities across USA or 5 cities in Canada or 40 cities in Europe or 4 cities in Australia.
Folks honorary consuls do not expect any payment as such but that official authority and flag means they will open more doors and also feel that they are appreciated and empowered
It is one of the ways to improve on the paltry 4% when it comes to source of information on investing back in Kenya.
None other than a sitting President should be hosting Kenyans in the diaspora at an annual congress where Kenya and corporate world will showcase what they have to offer .
Can you imagine for once what that can grow to be ? If Kenyans in the diaspora are remmiteng close to half a trillion shilling surely imagine how much more can they do if we raised the trust bar levels. We can host then every year to a convention where they come to Kenya in person and meet all relevant players under one roof.
Well this is not rocket science to do but it takes effort and some hard work .
As always yours truly is choosing to remain an optimist that Kenyans in the diaspora are the lot who have never been appreciated.
To our media mothers seem to lead the recipient list simply because they are more vulnerable and truth be told they hold families together and in many cases the fathers are also deceased but that debate is not here nor there.
The debate ought to be how do make it even better and easier for Kenyans in the diaspora to wire more more remittance
As always yours truly is choosing to remain an optimist