Diaspora remittances defy covid setbacks to grow 10.7%

Written By: Ronald Owili

PHOTO | Courtesy

Kenyans in the diaspora have sent home a record Kshs 340 billion ($3.094 billion) in 12 months to December 2020 despite COVID-19 setbacks in key source countries.

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Data from the Central Bank of Kenya indicates that diaspora remittances grew 10.7% when compared to Kshs. 307.7 billion ($2,796 million) recorded in 2019.

CBK also registered a recorded inflow in the month of December which hit Kshs. 33 billion ($299.6 million) from Kshs 28 billion recorded during the previous month of September.

“This remarkable growth of remittances has been supported by financial innovations that provided Kenyans in the diaspora more convenient channels for their transactions,” said CBK Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge.

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At the onset of coronavirus pandemic in March last year, remittances were projected to decline in coming months after a 9% slump in April to Kshs. 22.9 billion from Kshs. 25 billion.

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However, inflows picked up in the month of May to register to Kshs 28 billion and sustained an upward movement to beat pre-covid monthly figures.

World Bank earlier projected that Kenya would bear a minimal impact of COVID-19 effects in source countries when compared to its regional counterparts.

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“Within the region, remittances to Kenya have so far stayed positive, though flows are likely to eventually decline in 2021. All major remittance-receiving countries will likely see a decline of remittances,” World Bank noted.

Tapping remittance for economic growth

CBK has also announced plans to conduct a one month and first-ever Diaspora Remittances Survey between February and March 2021, in collaboration with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and other stakeholders.

“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,” said CBK.

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The regulator seeks information on 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.

The two parts online Diaspora Remittances Survey will focus on the sources of remittances (remitters and the source countries) while the second phase will target the households that receive remittances.

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