Diaspora inflows increase Sh30bn in first 10 months


The US diaspora accounts for more than half of the remittances sent to Kenya. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Cash sent home by Kenyans living abroad grew by Sh29.97 billion in the 10 months to October, compared to a similar period of last year, despite pressure from the economic knocks of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that the remittances amounted to $2.54 billion (Sh268.63 billion) in the first 10 months of this year, compared to $2.34 billion (Sh238.66 billion) in the same period in 2019 — a nine per cent growth.

The inflows, which are Kenya’s largest source of foreign exchange, have, however, increased by 17.3 per cent to $263.1 million (Sh28.58 billion) in October compared to $224.3 million (Sh23.25 billion) recorded in a similar month of 2019.

“The cumulative inflows in the 12 months to October totalled $3,006 million compared to $2,791 million in the 12 months to October 2019,” CBK stated.

The inflows have remained strong over the period despite predictions by the World Bank of 23.1 per cent fall in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 due to Covid-19-spurred economic crisis and lockdowns.

The projected fall was tied to expected wage cuts and loss of employment by the migrant workers, especially in Europe, US, Middle East and China.

The CBK said significant increases in the flows from the US and South Africa supported the resilience.

Diaspora remittances are used to offer support to the foreign exchange market, coupled with inflows from exports and services industry such as tourism and aviation.

Export receipts have grown six per cent to Sh479.7 billion in the nine months to September due to an increase in food and beverages exports. On the other hand, the import bill dropped by Sh130 billion to Sh1.9 trillion.

However, the flows gain has been countered by declined foreign reserves in the market due to demand for dollars by importers as the economic activities resumed in September.