PS outlines Govt’s four-pronged strategy to enable the diaspora to invest more in productive sectors

Kenya’s Principal Secretary for Diaspora Affairs, Ms Roseline Njogu, makes a point during a diaspora investment conference in Nairobi mid December 2023.

Photo credit: State Department for Diaspora Affairs

The State Department for Diaspora Affairs Principal Secretary (PS), Ms Roseline Njogu, has said the agency will shift gears and focus on four key areas. The focal points include securing jobs for Kenyans abroad; emphasising skills, knowledge and technology transfers; collaborating with the diaspora to open trade routes for Kenyan products and services; and encouraging the diaspora to invest back home.

Speaking on radio, PS Njogu highlighted that her primary activities during the one year in which the State Department had been in operation covered strengthening the structures, building trust, and creating a conducive environment for diaspora investments. Over the period, thousands of Kenyans abroad in over 20 countries received services through the Mobile Consular Service (MCS) outreach programme. The department also facilitated the evacuation of more than 1,350 Kenyans from distress situations.

“In stabilising consular issues, only then can we have conversations with people about investments. You can’t speak to people about investing if they can’t go to school and can’t access medical services. So, we have spent the first year setting up a very firm foundation that assures the diaspora we are here to protect their rights and welfare,” she noted.

PS Njogu was speaking on the back of a successful Diaspora Investment Conference, to highlight the significance of the inaugural event. The conference, which attracted the diaspora community, private sector organisations and Government institutions at national and county levels, had panels on various areas of investments, including real estate, financial services, capital markets, fintech, and start-ups in general.

“The conversations we are now picking up just after the conference show that we’ve had a successful event, so we came up with the Nairobi Declaration, which is still being cleaned up. It’s largely around being able to hold this regularly. The feedback we got is that can we put all the information we gave out, in one space where the diaspora can have access to it,” she said.

A set of panellists during a diaspora investment conference held in Nairobi on December 13-15, 2023.

Photo credit: State Department for Diaspora Affairs

Currently, a significant portion of diaspora remittances – about 80 Percent – are used for domestic purposes such as healthcare, education, funeral expenses, and rent. To shift the trend towards more investments, the Government, through the State Department for Diaspora Affairs, is working on creating incentives for remittances, fostering an enabling environment, ensuring security, and actively engaging the private sector.

The department is also developing a Diaspora Investment Strategy, scheduled for completion between April and May 2024. The strategy, the PS said, will provide insights into various investment approaches, define Government engagement methods, and outline how to foster investment without direct competition with the private sector, while ensuring sufficient security.

“Part of my job has been to speak with stakeholders like banks if they can offer better services even if it’s a simple fixed deposit USD account. We have also spoken with insurance companies on repatriation insurances and diaspora specific investment opportunities,” PS Njogu said.

Information and trust remain a big challenge for the diaspora when it comes to investment, with trust issues being exacerbated by their being away from home and frequent negative reports. To bridge the gap, the State Department for Diaspora Affairs is actively working with other stakeholders like the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE), to provide necessary information on secure investment opportunities, beyond the popular real estate options.

Looking ahead, the department aims to more productively engage the diaspora community in Kenya’s socio-economic growth and development efforts, to benefit them as investors, and the nation as a whole.