Diaspora remittances hit a record high of Sh19.2 billion ($185 million) in October, driven by higher inflows from Kenyans in the US who are now on average sending home more than Sh10 billion a month.
Fresh data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows the inflows rose 5.3 per cent compared to September’s Sh18.2 billion ($176.9 million).
Year-on-year, the remittances have gone up by 30 per cent or $42.95 million (Sh4.4 billion).
The rising remittances have helped the current account, keeping the deficit below seven per cent in a year when import costs of food, petroleum and transport equipment for the SGR have gone up considerably.
This has helped keep the shilling relatively strong.
“Remittances continue to be at record levels. We always have an acceleration as we come towards Christmas, and it is something that we should continue to expect,” said CBK governor Patrick Njoroge at a press conference on November 24.
Diaspora remittances account for the largest source of foreign currency inflows into Kenya, ahead of tea, tourism, horticulture and coffee exports.
The total remittances for the 10-month period stood at Sh161.9 billion ($1.57 billion), compared to Sh146.6 billion ($1.42 billion) in the same period last year.
Kenyans in North America continue to send home the bulk of the remittances, accounting for 56 per cent of the total last month ahead of Europe at 30 per cent and the rest of the world at 14 per cent.
In September, the amount sent home from North America topped the $100 million mark for the first time (at $101.05 million), and continued to grow in October to hit a record $104.5 million.
The last two months have seen a much larger jump in North America inflows compared to the other regions, having stood at $86.3 million in August.
European remittances, which stood at $55.3 million in October, have held between $53.7 million and $55.7 million since May.
The inflows from the rest of the world have ranged between $21.3 million and $28.7 million in the period since May, settling at $25.7 million in October.