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Kenyans in the diaspora to hold investment forum

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance chairman Shem Ochuodho. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The Kenya Diaspora Alliance chairman Shem Ochuodho. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

An umbrella body representing Kenyans living abroad will next month host a convention in Nairobi where investment opportunities will be showcased.

The Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA), whose membership stands at around 250,000, has organised the Kenya Diaspora Homecoming Convention that will be held for three days beginning December 13.

KDA chairman Shem Ochuodho said the meeting, in its fourth edition, will provide a platform for stakeholders to converge, network, transact and share success stories from around the world.

“For a globally distributed entity that remits over Sh200 billion annually, the Kenyan diaspora is a huge untapped goldmine and game-changer whose time to mainstream into the national socio-economic fabric cannot wait any longer,” Dr Ochuodho said in a statement.

The conference will feature a series of smaller meetings; focusing on various pertinent topics, key among them investment, public-private partnerships, youth engagement and governance.

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The main business areas of interest will be the environment and waste management, renewable energy, agri-business, infrastructure, real estate, and IT-enabled services.

Opportunities at the national and county government levels will also be on display.

Inflows from the diaspora in the nine months through September rose by Sh10.88 billion ($105 million) to a record Sh143.30 billion ($1.382 billion), latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya shows.

Diaspora remittances overtook tea exports and tourism receipts to be become Kenya’s largest foreign exchange earner three years ago.

An estimated 75 per cent of the tens of billions of shillings sent in every month, however, goes into domestic consumption — largely family support, school fees, medical bills and funeral expenses.

Most of Kenyans abroad, Dr Ochuodho said, are worried about the protection of their investment back in the country and usually seek reassurance from authorities and partners before sinking cash into new ventures.

Fund managers have recently joined commercial banks — which have been proactive in developing savings and investment products such as mortgages — seeking to tap the diaspora cash through investment vehicles such as unit trusts.

“The trend is still leaning towards the consumption rather investment side, but there’s some traction that is being made towards development,” said Churchill Ogutu, a senior research analyst at Genghis Capital.

“As we are seeing remittances improving, there will be more need of putting into investment rather than consumption.”

The event’s local organising committee chairman Abdulmalik Gichuki said about 1,000 guests are expected at this year’s forum themed ‘‘Knowledge Management and Youth Engagement.’’

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