CONFERENCE

Kenya to host diaspora forum as monthly remittances hit Sh24 bn

The National Treasury has been keen to tap the diaspora market to support economic growth

In Summary

•Kenyans living and working abroad have this year defied tough economic times in the wake of Covid-19 to continue sending money home.

•Central Bank of Kenya data shows total inflows in the 12 months to September stood at $2.9 billion(Sh322.8 billion).

American dollars/FILE
American dollars/FILE

Nairobi is set to host the first Africa diaspora symposium as remittances remain key in supporting the local economy.

The forum, between December 8-10 December,comes at a time that Kenyans abroad recorded a 21.4 per cent rise in cash sent home in the month of September, posting a continued recovery from the global economic fallout caused by coronavirus.

Revolving around the theme of “Leveraging Diaspora Resources for Africa’s Economic Recovery Post-Covid” the first Africa Diaspora Symposium- ADS2020, will take place alongside the seventh annual Kenya Diaspora Homecoming Convention- KDHC2020.

Kenyans living and working abroad have this year defied tough economic times in the wake of Covid-19 to continue sending money home, a relief for hundreds of families battling job losses and poor returns from businesses.

Central Bank of Kenya data shows total inflows in the 12 months to September stood at $2.9 billion(Sh322.8 billion) compared to $2.7 billion (Sh303.1 billion) in the same period last year.

This was a record inflow; a staggering performance by a sector that most policy makers and analysts had predicted would decline.

The World Bank projected that remittance flows to low and middle-income countries were expected to drop by around 20 per cent to $445 billion (Sh47.6 trillion), from $554 billion (Sh59.2 trillion) in 2019.

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic slammed the brakes on most activities globally, with business operations halted, initiatives postponed and some time-bound deals and events summarily cancelled, the African diaspora appears to have taken all this in stride.

Consistent diaspora remittances to the continent amounted to $80 billion, of which $48billion were attributed to sub-Suharan Africa remittances for last year, according to the World Bank.

Nigeria remains the largest recipient of remittances in sub-Saharan Africa and is the sixth-largest beneficiary among low-to middle-income countries, with an estimated $23.8 billion (Sh2.5 trillion) received in 2019.

This is an increase of more than half a billion dollars compared to 2018. Ghana and Kenya are ranked a distant second and third in the region, with $3.5 billion (Sh374 billion) and $2.8 billion (Sh299 billion) received, respectively.

Over 70 per cent of the diaspora inflows are from North America and Europe. In June, about Sh30 billion came into Kenya.

Kenya's National Treasury has been keen to tap the diaspora market to support economic growth through investments in the country, with a keen focus on the capital market in rising infrastructure development funds.

Other potential investment areas include healthcare, manufacturing, agro-processing, tourism and import-export, digital economy and arts.

 Kenya Diaspora Alliance Global Chairman Shem Ochuodho yesterday said the forum provides an opportunity to drive up remittances, in support of post Covid-19 recovery for the local economy and the continent at large.

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) is a registered trust, and a federation of over 40 diaspora organizations with a nominal combined membership of about 250,000 Kenyans across the globe. 

Its investment arm- Diaspora Investment Club (DICL) has start-up businesses nominally worth $ 4 million (Sh436.6 million) in real estate, financial markets, agribusiness, tech-novation (mobile apps), and investment consultancy.