The Grey Team
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Diaspora remittances is the leading forex earner for Kenya, having eclipsed agricultural exports and tourism.
Last year, the amount of money sent home rose by 8.34 % to $4.027 billion (Sh560 billion) in 2022, closing in on total exports, which brought in $5.77 billion worth of foreign currency in the same period.
Data by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows the US accounts for 51 % of remittances, with new markets especially in the Middle East.
While Kenya is ranked relatively well in terms of academic prowess and skills, the high unemployment rate has for years seen a loss of talent to other countries across all sectors.
The data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that at least 30 % of Kenyans working abroad are in the technical field, especially construction, engineering and information technology. Even so, most of them occupy manual and blue-collar positions abroad.
In other labor markets, especially in the Middle East, the majority are homekeepers. For instance, the latest data by NITA shows that 79 % of Kenyan ladies working in the UAE are housekeepers.
Grey Regional Director for East Africa Fionah Umulisa expects the number of Kenyan expatriates to increase in coming years especially in the information technology sector.
"More Kenyan professionals are looking outside for job opportunities. High literacy levels, excellent work competence and being highly IT savvy is making them more attractive to the international job market," Umulisa said. She adds that this is likely to push up diaspora remittances. His firm expects an annual increase of above 10 %.
Data released by Bloomberg last year ranks Kenyan immigrants working in the US as the third most industrious foreigners. They scored 73.4 % behind Ghanaians and Bulgarians who ranked first and second positions respectively 75.2 % and 74.2 %.
Other African countries that feature in the report's top 10 are Ethiopia (4th), Egypt (5th), Nigeria (8th) and Liberia (9th).
This makes Africans, in general, the most productive immigrants in the US ahead of those from Mexico and Central America, who constitute more than 70 % of foreign nationals in that country.
Kenyans abroad typically send money to help their families and to invest in projects like real estate.
Even so, the rising cost of living in countries like the US and in Europe on the back of costly energy, food and rent has been squeezing households and putting pressure on policymakers to bring the issue under control.
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