Plans are in place to set up a council to enhance relations with the more than three million Kenyans who live or work abroad.
The National Diaspora Council of Kenya will be established to coordinate and strengthen support with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Labour, Education, Health, Devolution and Interior ministries.
In the proposals contained in the Kenya Diaspora Policy, the first to be established since independence, some of the interventions include curbing the high cost of remittances, which stood at about Sh156 billion last year.
“Despite the huge potential of Kenyan diaspora, there are challenges hindering its contribution to national development. Some of the challenges include the high cost of remitting money and inadequate capacity to offer consular services,” the document states.
Although recent developments in the information and communication technologies sector have driven mobile-based payment and money transfer systems such as M-Pesa, Airtel Money, Nation Hela and Tangaza Pesa in some countries, the policy states, these services need to be expanded.
“The systems in some selected countries need to be expanded to other countries as it will go a long way in lowering the cost of money transfer resulting in increased remittances,” the policy said.
The government, in the document, commits to protect Kenyans outside the country by negotiating and signing bilateral labour agreements with host countries, strengthen regulatory framework for employment agencies, review the Labour Institutions Act 2007 and conduct pre-departure training for migrant workers and students.
The policy identified weak structures that do not protect Kenyans abroad and came up with a multi-sectoral and collaborative approach from the ministries and stakeholders with an integrated database of Kenyans abroad.
The government said it will develop an integrated database system of Kenyans abroad in order to improve access to timely and quality information.
The system, through Kenya’s 55 diplomatic missions, will sensitise Kenyans to create awareness on the benefits of registration to enhance their engagement with the government.
The policy also committed to put in place structures, programmes and incentives to attract and utilise qualified and skilled human resource drawn from Kenyans abroad.
“The government will put in place mechanism and measures to promote transfer of knowledge and skills through online support in order to build local capacity of Kenyans,” the document said.
The policy indicated returnees from abroad are often faced with the challenge of assimilation into the society, and the government will facilitate the transfer of social security benefits to help them settle down.