Kenyans abroad seek state assurance in economic recovery plans

Kenyans living abroad are seeking assurance from the government that plans to fully reopen the economy in the wake of COVID-19 will help the country emerge stronger from the effects of the pandemic.

The move follows a sustained increase in Diaspora remittances since the beginning of the year, and which only slowed in July of this year on account of coronavirus.

Data from the Central Bank of Kenya shows Kenyans abroad sent home a total of Kshs 187.82 billion in seven months to July this year, compared to Kshs 180.81 billion recorded during the same period last year.

Speaking during a virtual meeting organized by the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala said that tourism is one of the worst affected sectors by COVID-19 in the continent with the industry commanding just 3 percent of the global tourism market.

Micro, small and medium enterprises, particularly the tourism and aviation sectors have been severely affected due to requisite, preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus such as prolonged lockdowns and quarantining of travellers.

Balala urged members of the alliance to seek investment partnerships with local sector players to help lift the industry out of the recession.

He also called on the diaspora community to invest in the infrastructure in Africa.

“Why can’t the diaspora community finance infrastructure in Africa?” he asked. “There are many opportunities for investment, not just in Kenya but the continent,” Balala added.

Diaspora bonds

The government has been mulling over plans to introduce diaspora green bonds to finance key projects under Big 4 Agenda.

The World Bank estimates that diaspora bonds have the potential to generate at least 50 billion dollars for developing countries annually as COVID-19 dampens foreign direct investments.

The virtual meeting focused on Africa’s economic recovery post COVID-19 and explored safe ways that African countries can reopen their economies amidst the pandemic.

Since the announcement of the first case, there are over 1M cases of the Corona Virus in the continent. Despite the relatively low numbers as compared to other continents, the pandemic has had a significant toll on African economies.

The meeting had brought together participants from different governments, the private sector, diaspora, NGOs, and regional and international organisations, and sought to discuss steps and actions being taken to reopen economic activities across Africa. The meeting also highlighted opportunities for diaspora and other partners to invest in and promote the sectors of health, tourism, and transport.

  

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