Kenyans living abroad aim to double the cash they send back home to Sh500 billion by 2022.
Diaspora remittances have risen steadily since 2013 to reach $2,790 million (Sh279 billion) in the 12 months to November 2019, according to Central Bank of Kenya data.
The increased remittances was one of the resolutions made during the annual Kenya Diaspora Homecoming Convention in Nairobi last week, which was attended by over 800 delegates residing in over 50 countries.
The event, in its third year, serves as a platform for interaction by Kenyans in the diaspora, while also creating awareness on investment opportunities.
“A new target was set to double remittances to $5 billion (Sh500 billion) and increase the percentage to investments and hard savings from the current 25 per cent to 30 per cent by the end of 2022,” said Shem Ochuodho, the global chair of the Kenya Diaspora Alliance during a media briefing on Monday.
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The alliance has a membership of more than 250,000 Kenyans in foreign countries.
In addition to increasing remittances, the diaspora residents further resolved to provide more intellectual capital and boost investment in the country, particularly in the counties and in areas related to the Big Four Agenda.
Through these endeavours, the Kenyans hope to accelerate the country’s development.
The symposium also highlighted the need for diaspora residents to explore alternative investments other than real estate, which has always been the preferred investment avenue.
“We have so many opportunities for investment besides plots the diaspora only gets to be told about in terms of investment. We can invest in agribusiness, manufacturing and the stock exchange, our opportunities are endless,” said Kenya North Diaspora Sacco Chairperson Lucy Mckenzie.
However, to boost investment in real estate, the government announced special tax waivers beginning next year.
“Any material for affordable housing in Kenya will attract a waiver of 16 per cent VAT (value added tax) starting in January 2020,” said the director of Stakeholder Engagement in the Transport ministry, Kaplich Barsito, on behalf of the Principal Secretary.
The association also announced that it is looking at partnering with agencies such as the United States Chamber of Commerce to boost investment in Kenya.
However, diaspora residents also remarked that despite remittances growing year by year, the funds have made little visible impact on the Kenyan economy.
“The diaspora is known for plots and remitting $3 billion (Sh300 billion), but nothing bold exists to show. We need to be bold and create catalytic investments,” said Jumuiya ya Pwani Chief Executive Emmanuel Nzai.