President Uhuru Kenyatta meets Kenyan diaspora living in London on July 10,2017.Photo PSCU
Kenyans abroad sent Sh21bn home in February, record high
February cash inflows from Kenyans living abroad have hit a record high, fresh data from the Central Bank of Kenya shows.
CBK figures show that foreign inflows reached $210.36 million (Sh21.24 billion). This represents a 47.45 per cent jump compared to $142.67 million (Sh14.41 billion) sent the same period last year.
This is the third time cash from Kenyans living and working abroad has passed the $200 million. This has broken the previous years’ trend where remittance would shoot up in December due to the festive season and dip in January.
Month on month diaspora remittance grew 0.69 from $208.92 million (Sh21.1 billion) in January.
Over the past four years diaspora remittance has remained the country’s leading foreign exchange earner, surpassing tourism, tea and horticulture.
For instance, in 2017 alone, Kenyans sent back $1.95 billion (Sh196.93 billion), this is higher than tea, tourism and horticulture which raked in Sh129, Sh119 and Sh115 billion respectively.
The CBK data shows the USA and Canada accounted for most of the cash received from Kenyans living and working abroad at an average of 55.13 per cent. Eure accounted for 30.34 per cent of diaspora remittance while the rest of the world contributed 14.53 per cent.
CBK conducts a monthly survey on remittance inflows through formal channels including commercial banks and other authorized international remittance service providers in Kenya.
The World Bank however believes the actual amount of these foreign cash inflows could be significantly larger when you put into account remittances transferred through unrecorded channels. These include money brought home on return and transfers through unregistered intermediaries.
KDA chairman Seth Ochuodho said foreign cash inflows stand to provide an alternate source of funds required for the development of county projects adding that only 25 per cent of the money sent goes into investment while the rest goes into personal consumption.
The Kenya Investment Authority said most of the money sent for investment is put into property and real estate development. This, according to KenInvest managing director Moses Ikiara is as a result of increased professionalization coupled with relatively high return on investment in the real estate sector.
A consistency of increase of foreign cash inflows has led some industry experts to believe that the funds can be better channeled to improve the country’s infrastructure development while decreasing Kenya’s debt burden.
“A bigger and better way to channel these resources should be through government papers, bonds, and banks financing the bonds in a bid to be more productive,” African Development Bank regional director Gabriel Negatu told the Star on the sidelines of a two-day conference by the Kenya Diaspora Alliance held in December.
Source: The Star