Kenyans abroad feel pandemic pinch, reduce remittances

People walk past a Western Union signage on Kenyatta Avenue.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Remittances from Kenyans abroad fell by Sh1.4 billion in September partly due to the effects of a second Covid-19 infection wave witnessed in many countries in Europe and the Americas which has seen some re-impose restrictions, slowing down economic recovery.

Data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows diaspora remittances fell 4.9 per cent to Sh28.2 billion in September, down from Sh29.6 billion received from abroad in August, with the US retaining its position as the single largest source of the payments.  

However, the latest payments from Kenyans abroad continue the year-on-year rise of diaspora disbursements to the country, underlined by a 21.4 per cent increase compared to the Sh23.2 billion remitted in September 2019.

This means total remittances in the 12 months leading to September rose by 6.5 per cent to stand at Sh320 billion, up from Sh300 billion recorded in the 12 months to September 2019.

“Remittance inflows remained strong in September amounting to Sh28.2 billion ($260.7 million) compared to Sh23.2 billion ($214.7 million) in September 2019, an increase of 21.4 per cent. The cumulative inflows in the 12 months to September totalled Sh320 billion ($2,967 million) compared to Sh300 billion ($2,786 million) in the 12 months to September 2019. The US remains the largest source of remittance flows to Kenya, recording a growth of 25.2 per cent in the year to September,” CBK said in its weekly statistical bulletin.

September now marks the third month running the remittances have fallen to reflect increasing uncertainties in economies across the globe which was preceded by a rise corresponding with the onset of the pandemic in Kenya between April and June.

Diaspora remittances have grown over the past few decades to become Kenya’s single biggest source of the crucial foreign exchange amid a fall in tourist and business traveller arrivals into the country following global Covid-19 restriction regulations. 

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