Many of the millions of Kenyans living and working abroad have a keen interest in the developments back home. They are not just good investors, funnelling millions of dollars back home every year, but they also monitor socioeconomic and political progress. By June, they had sent home Sh33 billion, six per cent more than a year ago. They, therefore, have a huge stake and deserve to have a say through the vote in how the country is governed,
As more Kenyans move overseas in search of greener pastures, their attachment to the motherland has never wavered. They are, in fact, disappointed about the sluggish plans to enable them to vote while in their host countries. The clamour for the diaspora vote has, indeed, continued to mount.
The good news now is that more of the 3.5 million eligible Kenyans abroad will be able to vote in the 2022 General Election, after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced plans to enhance their registration. This is part of preparations to roll out mass voter registration from October 4 that will see Kenyans living in 11 countries, up from the current five, vote for presidential candidates without having to travel back home. Fewer than 3,000 Kenyans living in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South Africa were allowed to vote in the 2013 and 2017 elections.
Besides the United States, the IEBC is eyeing Canada, South Sudan, the United Kingdom, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Kenyans in those countries will only require their national identity cards to register as voters, which has been confirmed by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati.
Extending voting rights to the Kenyan diaspora is part of the overall effort to ensure that all eligible citizens exercise their right to choose their leaders in a free and fair democratic poll.