Kenya will establish the Ministry of Diaspora to address issues affecting its citizens even as it focuses to boost remittances, President William Ruto has announced.
Dr Ruto said the decision was arrived at following complaints that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve.
“The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected,” Dr Ruto said in his inaugural address shortly after taking the oath of office as Kenya’s 5th President.
“To correct this oversight, I pledge to elevate diaspora issues at a ministry level.”
Diaspora remittances rose to Sh283.6 billion or 13 percent from Sh250.4 billion over the period January to July 2022.
The US is the biggest source of remittances to Kenya, accounting for 59 percent of the total sum of funds sent into the country this year.
Dr Ruto said the government will also strengthen diaspora services in all embassies and set up a mechanism for public participation by the Kenyans living abroad.
Those living in the diaspora will also have greater participation in future elections after Dr Ruto said the government will work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to increase the number of registered voters from the current 10,444.
Dr Ruto said the new government will work with Parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.
Already, Parliament has set up a standalone committee to address the plight of migrant workers, students and holders of dual citizenship living abroad following an outcry from domestic workers in the middle east.
The select committee on Diaspora and Migrant Workers is expected to take shape in the coming days once lawmakers are placed in House team.
The committee will deal with all matters relating to the protection of the rights and welfare of Kenyans in the diaspora.
The 14-member team will handle all issues facing Kenyan nationals with dual citizenship, Kenyan migrant workers and their families abroad and Kenyans undertaking studies abroad.
The establishment of a standalone committee comes amid a jump in the numbers moving abroad in search of greener pastures and abuse cases by employers in the Middle East.
A rising number of Kenyan youth are seeking jobs abroad to escape the high level of unemployment in the country. About 1.2 million Kenyan youth join the labour market every year.