EDITORIAL: Diaspora Plan Timely

The commitments made by the government at the conference on Kenya’s diaspora that closed on Thursday must be followed through if the country is to fully maximize the potential of its citizens living abroad.

Cash only: Anybody used to wielding a wallet full of plastic should take note: many shops in Germany only accept payment in cash (Bargeld) and offering a debit card will often just get you a dismissive shake of the head or directions to a cashpoint. While ATMs are plentiful, almost all charge a hefty fee – in fact practically the only place to withdraw cash free is your own bank – so expats have to get used to carrying a lot of euros. Photo: Flickr/Flattop341

Remittances from the diaspora, at an estimated Sh184 billion annually, largely go into investments and support of dependants.

The critical role of the diaspora in nation building, from sending financial resources and professional skills back home to acting as ambassadors of Kenya has long been recognised.

As it emerged at the conference, these citizens still face myriad challenges as they seek to contribute to the development of the country.

Top among these is lack of comprehensive and credible information on where to invest in the country. Remittances from the diaspora, at an estimated Sh184 billion annually, largely go into investments and support of dependants.

It was therefore a welcome move by the government, represented by President Uhuru Kenyatta himself, to commit to crafting a policy specifically aimed at creating an enabling environment for the diaspora with regard to investment and participation in civic duties including voting in elections.

There are specific measures which can address some of the issues raised. The government, for instance, has not issued a diaspora bond despite talking about it for years.

The private sector also has a major role to play by actively packaging and marketing reliable investment options to the diaspora.

It would be ideal for the government and institutions like banks, insurers, fund managers and real estate developers to work together to realise the full potential of the diaspora.

– Business Daily

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