Kenyans living abroad sent home Sh31.5 billion ($290.8) last month as they shrugged off the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in source countries.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that diaspora remittances in March grew 27 per cent from Sh24.8 billion ($228.8 million) that was sent home in March 2020.
The United States is the biggest source of remittances to Kenya, accounting for 55.9 per cent of remittances last month.
Others including the United Kingdom at 11.2 per cent, Saudi Arabia (four per cent), Canada and Australia at (2.9 per cent each) also made key contributions.
“Remittances in March 2021 amounted to $290.8 million (Sh31.5 billion), compared to $228.8 million (Sh24.8 billion) in March 2020, an increase of 27.1 per cent,” said CBK in a statement.
The diaspora inflows have been the country’s largest source of foreign exchange since 2015 when they overtook earnings from tea exports.
CBK attributes the continued growth of remittances to financial innovations that have opened up more convenient channels for transactions including sending directly to the recipient’s mobile phone.
The CBK is conducting its first-ever Diaspora Remittances Survey, which will be concluded next month, seeking information on inflows that will help guide policy and find ways of boosting the role of remittances in supporting the economy and livelihoods.
The survey that is being done in collaboration with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and other stakeholders will assess the efficiency and cost of alternative remittance channels, difficulties of remitting money, the availability of information to Kenyans in the diaspora about investment and the use of remittances.