By Evans Ongwae
Remittances from Kenyans in the Diaspora continue their upward trend.
For more than a decade, the country has received more inflows in successive years, often recording a 10 percent or more increase from one year to the next. This positive trend has persisted.
Last year, remittances peaked at more than Ksh3 billion, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the whole world and is yet to be tamed.
Then, early this year, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) announced it would conduct a survey on Diaspora remittances in conjunction with other stakeholders. This first-ever such survey, conducted online in February and March, sought to provide vital information on the different aspects of Diaspora remittances.
Such a focus on remittances is understandable, given that the country receives plenty of inflows from various parts of the world where some of its citizens work and live.
Inflows of remittances are largely from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania.
Remittances, notes CBK, play a pivotal role in socio-economic development in recipient countries, and are an important source of foreign exchange.
CBK announced that, “the survey aims at collecting valuable information on remittance inflows to Kenya to help guide policy, with the objective of boosting the role of remittances in supporting the economy and livelihoods.”
The central bank added that remittance inflows were strongly buoyant in 2020 despite the devastation by Covid-19 in the source countries. Remittances rose to a record high of $3,094 million in 2020, from $2,796 million in 2019, an increase of 10.7 percent.
In the month of December 2020 alone, “remittances reached a historical peak of $299 million”.
CBK stated: “This remarkable growth of remittances has been supported by financial innovations that provided Kenyans in the Diaspora more convenient channels for their transactions.”
Inflows are expected to rise further once the bottlenecks identified by the CBK survey are tackled.
The survey sought such vital information as the efficiency and cost of alternative remittance channels; the difficulties encountered in remitting cash or non-cash transfers; the availability of information to
Kenyans in the Diaspora about investment opportunities in Kenya; and the usage of remittances received.
Research carried out some years ago found that Kenya receives more remittances than the rest of Sub‐Saharan Africa. At the time of the research, Kenya had more citizens migrating to the West and Asia compared to the rest of the sub-continent.
For example, from the years 2006 to 2010, one out of 1,017 Kenyans migrated per year. That was double the amount of Sub‐Saharan
Migration of Kenya labour to other countries in Africa (such as South Africa and Botswana) and other parts of the world, is common.
These Kenyans seek convenient channels through which to safely and affordably send money back home.
Interestingly, money transfer solutions are available in any region of the world. Whether it is North America, Europe, Middle East, South Asia or even Oceania, Kenyans in the Diaspora are assured of channels they can use.
One such channel is Transfast. This withdrawal service is now available at Co-operative Bank branches across the country. Recipients of remittances can also receive funds directly into their account or to their mobile wallet if the sender indicated so when sending the money.
Yet another platform is Co-opRemit, a money transfer solution that allows Co-op Bank customers to send money to a mobile wallet or bank account outside Kenya conveniently and affordably.
Co-opRemit is ideal for MSMEs, parents with children studying abroad, as well as persons with relatives seeking medical treatment in a foreign country.
Another money transfer solution, Instant Cash, is a safe, secure and fast means to send cash from over 250,000 locations across the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and USA.
Once the money is deposited into a Co-op bank account, the receiver can withdraw it from a Co-op banking hall, an ATM or Co-op Agent, or via mobile banking.