Refugees present a promising opportunity for private investment

Written By: Benson Rioba

Refugee communities present a promising opportunity for private investment in sub-Saharan Africa backed by a study that found that the Kakuma Refugee Camp has a consumer market worth 6 billion shillings annually.

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The study by The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) reveals that the billions are mostly spent on consumer goods and personal care items.

The study indicates that private sector engagement in refugee settings can promote self-reliance and socio-economic integration between refugees and host communities hence empowering them both.

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The Kakuma Refugee Camp in Turkana County hosts an estimated 180,000 refugees, most of who mainly rely on humanitarian aid.

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However, the latest study by the IFC and UNHCR on household spending at the camp and the neighboring town indicates that area residents spend about 6 billion shillings annually.

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This according the UNHCR presents a huge market for the private sector to invest in services such as healthcare, energy and education which would offer more choices as well as strengthen self-reliance among the refugee community.

In addition, 70 percent of refugees own mobile phones thus making it an attractive market for mobile banking.

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The study recommends that the government should upgrade business infrastructure in refugee camps that have the potential to generate additional jobs as well as revenue for the government.

The study found that the camp which is home to about 180,000 refugees has a vibrant informal private sector highlighted by more than 2,000 shops in Kakuma Refugee Camp operated by refugees and Kenyans.


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