Ministry targets diaspora to drive investments

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COASTAMBASSADOR2403EThe government will this week play host to Kenyans living abroad in a three-day conference it hopes will encourage them to invest back home.

The meeting kicks off Tuesday, with a golf tournament at the Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club before it is officially opened on Wednesday by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the same venue.

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Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho Monday said the golf tournament was one of the enticements they were offering to attract Kenyans living abroad.

“This unique conference sets out to chart new frontiers for the diaspora. It aims to create a platform for interaction, networking and investment opportunities amongst the diaspora and other stakeholders in order to deepen diaspora integration into national development,” Dr Kibicho said.

A concept note prepared for the meeting shows that it will be the “climax of diplomatic activities” that follow a meeting of Kenyan diplomats in Mombasa last week.

At least 500 participants are expected to attend.

They will mainly be Kenyans living abroad, Kenyans returning home, stakeholders from the financial and investments sectors, real estate champions, hospitality players, Kenyan envoys abroad as well as foreign diplomats accredited to Nairobi.

To attract participants, the government says it will provide shuttle service from CBD to Windsor, negotiate for discounted airfare, provide free meals at the event in addition to the pre-event golf tournament and dinner.

Financial institutions such as Cooperative Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, Family Bank, World Remit, National Bank and Dahabshill have already announced they will be sponsoring the conference.

DIASPORA DIPLOMACY

“As the country goes through economic transformation, the beneficial impact of the diaspora on domestic demand, trade, job creation and inclusive growth, need to be carefully harnessed for greater national development,” Dr Kibicho added.

“The Conference is an important platform that will allow discussion of critical diaspora issues of the day. The ministry of foreign affairs and international trade is also cognizant of the vital role played by the diaspora and has made diaspora diplomacy one of the five key pillars of Kenyas foreign policy.”

The conference which ends on April 02 is the first of its kind under President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government.

It follows the launch of two policies by the foreign affairs ministry earlier in the year.

In January, Kenya launched the Diaspora Policy which it argued would help guide Kenyans abroad on better investment opportunities back home.

This, Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed argued at the time, will tap in a constituency who could contribute to Vision 2030.

FIVE PILLARS

Kenya’s new foreign policy launched earlier stated that the diaspora will be one of its five pillars.

Estimated to be about 3 million, Kenyans abroad sent home $1.43 billion (ShS128.7 billion) in 2014, a ten per cent increase from 2013, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.

Most of these remittances came from Canada and the US accounting for 45 per cent, followed by Europe which jointly contributed 30 per cent.

The rest came from other areas such as the Middle East.

But the government had long been criticised for not providing adequate information on the state of the economy, business environment that could encourage the diaspora to directly invest back home.

In December last year, the government responded by launching an online portal for Kenyans abroad to register.

Tomorrow, government agencies such as the Immigration Department, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Registration Bureau and electoral commission (IEBC) will open tents to the diaspora, during the conference.

-nation.co.ke

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