Economy

Uhuru assures diaspora of inclusion in Kenya's development agenda

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President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking when he opened the Kenya Diaspora Investment Conference at Windsor hotel in Nairobi on April 1, 2015. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed is seated left. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI |

Summary

  • Uhuru cites the launch of the African Institute for Remittances in Nairobi last year as one of the measures taken to encourage diaspora engagement in the country’s economic growth.

President Uhuru Kenyatta today affirmed the Government’s commitment to mainstreaming the Kenyan diaspora in the country’s development agenda.

He said government is focused on creating an enabling environment that will integrate the Kenyan diaspora and enable them to invest in national development.

“In this process of integration, the main thrust must be to unlock and maximize the hitherto untapped promise of the diaspora and use this energy to carry our country to greater heights, while at the same time meeting the needs and expectations of Kenyans abroad at every point in time,” the President said.

President Kenyatta made the remarks when he opened the Kenya Diaspora Easter Investment Conference 2015 – the first of its kind – at the Windsor Golf Hotel in Kiambu County.

While Kenyans living abroad remitted Sh130 billion in 2014, the president emphasised the need for these remittances to be structured.

He cited the launch of the African Institute for Remittances in Nairobi in November last year as one of the measures taken to encourage diaspora engagement in the country’s economic growth.

READ: Kenya diaspora inflows hit high of Sh130 billion

“The Institute will, among other things assist in capacity building of member states of the AU, remittance senders, recipients, and other stakeholders, to manage remittances as a strategic asset,” he said.

Diaspora diplomacy

He added that the Government has embarked on deepening its engagement with the diaspora beyond remittances.

“Apart from the remittances, which contribute significantly to our economic development, we have enormous potential in our diaspora’s skills, knowledge and expertise that should be tapped to positively contribute to the growth of our economy.”

President Kenyatta assured that the Government has scaled up efforts to address challenges facing the Kenyan diaspora, saying diaspora diplomacy was now one of the pillars of Kenya’s Foreign Policy.

On participation in general elections, the President said that government had gazetted a taskforce on the full implementation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 to facilitate voting by the diaspora.

“The team has begun its work and will soon submit its report for implementation,” Mr Kenyatta said.

Underscoring the importance of security in attracting investment from the diaspora and other international investors, the President affirmed that security has been beefed up.

“We are doing this partly by addressing the historical underfunding of our security agencies,” the President said.

Investment packages

Speaking during the occasion, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said her ministry is considering incentives and tailor made investment packages to encourage Kenyans abroad to direct their remittances towards productive ventures at both national and county levels.

“These will include investment promotion and facilitation initiatives targeting Kenyans abroad; establishment of intermediary facilities to provide investment management services; and development of specific investment products and incentives that specifically target Kenyans abroad such as Government securities and Public Private Partnership engagements,” the CS said.

She disclosed that her ministry is also exploring other combinations of initiatives such as lowering the costs of diaspora transactions and aggregate Diaspora remittances and investments for optimal impact.

The Cabinet Secretary cited preferential duty waivers and other concessions for Diaspora businesses, extension of formal banking opportunities and cheaper costs for financial transfers, and the issuance of Diaspora bonds as other incentives on the offer.