Open diaspora offices in every county for better devolution
The Kenya Diaspora Alliance wants a diaspora office in each county to enhance devolution through increased county funding.
KDA chairman Seth Ochuodho said that foreign cash inflows stand to provide an alternate source of funds required for the development of county projects. This, he said, would avert counties from overreliance on the national government and foreign aid organisations to drive growth on the county level.
“We are already talking to the National government and the devolution ministry to help build systems that support and mobilize funds received from Kenyans abroad to enhance county development,” he said.
Ochuodho added that of the total cash sent from abroad, only 25 per cent goes into investment while the rest goes into personal consumption.
“We are keen to grow that to 30 per cent in the next five years so that more can go into hard investments and savings,” he said.
Data by the Central Bank of Kenya shows that cash inflows from Kenyans living abroad hit a record high in September registering $176.1 million (Sh18.18 billion). This was a 22.98 per cent jump from $143.19 million (Sh14.78 billion) recorded the same period last year.
In the nine months to September, Kenyans abroad sent $1.39 billion (Sh143.52 billion), 9.45 per cent more than $1.27 (Sh131.13 billion) sent home last year.
Foreign cash inflows, which have remained the country’s biggest source of foreign exchange over the past three years surpassing tourism, tea and horticulture exports, have largely been invested in real estate, agribusiness and the stock market.
Ochuodho said that there was need to develop incentives and policies that would encourage Kenyans living abroad to make hard investments in the country.
“There is no reason why we cannot give incentives to our own people to create opportunities and bring back repatriating their profits,” he said. “We have made a formal proposal to government that in the next five years we believe diaspora remittance can be doubled.”
The diaspora lobby group will host a three-day convention in Nairobi to showcase the different investment opportunities in the country.
With a membership of around 250,000 people, KDA said that there is need for the establishment of a structured database to encompass all Kenyans living abroad, who Ochuodho said are estimated at about three million.
“There is no authoritative data on how many Kenyans there actually are out there and we need to work on that,” he said.