What you need to know:
- Kenya Diaspora Alliance says foreign countries have begun recognising the contribution of the diaspora in the economies of African countries.
- President Ruto has promised to strengthen diaspora services in all embassies and set up a mechanism for public participation by the Kenyans living abroad.
Kenyans living in the diaspora are looking forward to engaging the government over its fresh commitment to bolster gains from remittances and investments.
This follows high expectations over the appointment of a senior government official responsible for their affairs; the first since Kenya’s independence. Roseline Njogu was appointed Principal Secretary for the State Department for Diaspora Affairs.
Chairman of the Kenya Diaspora Alliance Dr Shem Ochuodho on Sunday said foreign countries have begun recognising the contribution of the diaspora in the economies of African countries.
“We are delighted with how foreign countries have begun recognising the Kenyan diaspora because this indicates our potentiality abroad,” Dr Ochuodho said.
He gave an example of the German Government that has invited the diaspora and other stakeholders onto a round table to design an entrepreneurship program called WIDU Africa that leverages on remittances and helps entrepreneurs in small and micro business in the informal sector to solve the problem of funding.
The leadership of the alliance has exuded confidence in Kenya Kwanza regime’s creation of a diaspora portfolio. Through an upcoming investment conference to be held next month, Dr Ochuodho explained they are championing a mind shift, negative African narrative and advocating for respect, building business partnership on a win-win basis and bringing back Africa into their rightful place in geopolitics and international trade.
“We are focusing on a cordial working relationship between the new Government and Kenyans in diaspora because there are numerous investment opportunities that are yet to be tapped,” Dr Ochuodho added.
During his inauguration Dr Ruto said the decision to create a portfolio for Kenyans in diaspora was arrived at following complaints that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve.
“The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected,” Dr Ruto said.
Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Alfred Mutua is expected to engage with Kenyan Diaspora from over 127 countries in the convention to deepen the ministries relationship with diaspora, as many have over the last decades felt alienated from the foreign affairs ministry.
He is set to grace the 9th Kenya Diaspora Homecoming Convention which will be held from December 7th-9th at Ole Sereni Hotel. The theme for the Convention this year is Inclusive Growth Leveraging Diaspora Resources.
The organisation has currently set a target to work with partners such as government and corporates to double the remittances to US$ 5-6 billion, and increase the percentage going into investments and hard savings from the current 25-30 percent by the year 2030.
President Ruto has promised to strengthen diaspora services in all embassies and set up a mechanism for public participation by the Kenyans living abroad. He also said the new government will work with Parliament to set up a committee that will exclusively deal with diaspora issues.
Already, Parliament has set up a standalone committee to address the plight of migrant workers, students and holders of dual citizenship living abroad following an outcry from domestic workers in the Middle east.
The select committee on Diaspora and Migrant Workers is expected to take shape in the coming days once lawmakers are placed in the House team. The committee will deal with all matters relating to the protection of the rights and welfare of Kenyans in the diaspora.
The 14-member team will handle all issues facing Kenyan nationals with dual citizenship, Kenyan migrant workers and their families abroad and Kenyans undertaking studies abroad.
The establishment of a standalone committee comes amid a jump in the numbers moving abroad in search of greener pastures and abuse cases by employers in the Middle East.
During the launch of his election manifesto the president promised to expand markets for local products and services, Ruto’s government says it will capitalize on its membership in regional organizations such as EAC, Comesa, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), and (IGAD).