Kenyan diaspora wants investment terrain improved (Business Daily (Kenya))

Kenyans living in the diaspora have asked the government to create a more conducive investment environment to enable them increase their capital outlays back home.During an inaugural diaspora investment conference held on Wednesday in Nairobi, the group asked for more accurate and transparent data to enable making of informed investment decisions.”Government needs to play the role of creating an enabling investment atmosphere for us,” a Kenyan diaspora representative from Japan said.The two-day conference themed ”Development and Innovation: Opportunities for Diaspora,” is expected to come up with an investment framework to be applied in a bid to encourage more Kenyans to invest home.President Uhuru Kenyatta assured Kenyans living abroad that the government would commit in policy and strategy to create an enabling environment that will enable them to invest here.”In this process of integration, the main thrust must be to unlock and maximise the hitherto untapped promise of the diaspora and use this energy to carry our country to greater heights, while at the same time meeting the needs and expectations of Kenyans abroad at every point in time,” Mr Kenyatta said.The President cited the launch of the African Institute for Remittances in Nairobi in November last year as one of the measures taken to encourage diaspora engagement in the country’s economic growth.ALSO READ: Uhuru assures diaspora of inclusion in Kenya’s development agendaFamily Bank Group, which was one of the key sponsors of the event, urged the government to put more focus on promoting diaspora remittances than attracting foreign direct investments.”The current number of Kenyans living abroad has grown bigger than some of our own counties here at home. Remittances from the diaspora were more than $1.43 billion in 2014 which translates to about 2.4 per cent of GDP. The 25 per cent of this invested exceed what we get from foreign directly investment and it is time the country chose to focus on promoting more diaspora investment,” Family Bank CEO Peter Munyiri noted.Other key sponsors are KCB and Co-operative Bank.There are approximately three million Kenyans in the diaspora with majority residing in USA, Canada, the UK, UAE and African countries.Although Central Bank of Kenya and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics estimate that diaspora remittances for 2014 were close to $1.5 billion, National Treasury secretary Henry Rotich said the unreported remittances were also close to $800 million bringing the total to $2 billion.Foreign Affairs secretary Amina Mohamed said her ministry is developing incentives and tailor-made investment packages to encourage Kenyans abroad to direct their remittances towards productive ventures both at the national and county levels.”These will include investment promotion and facilitation initiatives targeting Kenyans abroad establishment of intermediary facilities to provide investment management services and development of specific investment products and incentives that specifically target Kenyans abroad such as Government securities and Public Private Partnership engagements,” the CS said.Kenya is also considering lowering costs for diaspora transactions and aggregate diaspora remittances for optimal investments.Kenyans living abroad will also begin enjoying referential duty waivers and other concessions for diaspora businesses, extension of formal banking opportunities and cheaper costs for financial transfers, and the issuance of diaspora bonds among other incentives to push up the volume of remittances.The two-day conference comes to a close today. A similar event will now be held annually to bring together the business community and Government departments involved with the diaspora platform to discuss issues affecting Kenyans living abroad and explore new investment opportunities.