The International Organization for Migration(IOM) defines Diaspora as members of ethnic and national communities who have left,but maintain links with their homelands.

Kenyans have been migrating in large numbers to different parts of the world since the 1960s to acquire better training,education,job opportunities and for political reasons.

The number of Kenyans abroad is estimated to be over five million and is continuously on the rise.They consist people of Kenyan origin, non-residents and dual citizens.

We have professionals working as doctors,academics,engineers,nurses,lawyers,bankers ,international civil servants,among others.

There are Kenyans who have migrated to foreign countries to get employed as domestic workers and drivers attached to households.

We have Kenyan entrepreneurs,traders and investors abroad.We have Kenyans studying in foreign schools,colleges and universities.

There are Kenyans legally held in foreign prisons or under custodial confinement as punishment for crimes they have or may have committed. We also have victims of human and drug trafficking.

Kenyans have also crossed national borders without proper documentation,circumvented or violated immigration rules and regulations or have overstayed their visa duration.

Some Kenyans have gotten married to foreign nationals while others have relinquished their citizenship.

A number of Kenyans have migrated abroad and are unwilling to return fearing persecution as a result of their political views,affiliation or opinion.

We have others who are homeless abroad and are unable to maintain their housing situation and,therefore forced to stay with a series of friends,relatives or facilities for the homeless.

There is second and third generation diaspora that is those of Kenyan born parents or of at least one Kenyan parent.

Clearly,the Kenyan diaspora can rightly be referred to as County 48 after the territorial forty seven counties.

Therefore,there is need to mainstream and integrate this key constituency in the country’s planning and economic blue print.

According to the Central Bank of Kenya’s “Diaspora Remittances Survey” Kenyans living in different countries across the World  sent back USD 3,718 million in 2021. This is equivalent to 3% of GDP in that year and the growth in remittances is currently at twelve per cent annually.

Indeed,the diaspora plays a significant role in Kenya’s economy.

Despite the huge potential of the Kenyan diaspora,there are challenges hindering its contribution to national development.Some of the challenges include;the high cost of remitting money,inadequate capacity to offer consular services,inadequate mechanisms of social protection,weak structures to inform about investment opportunities,untapped skills and expertise as well as lack of an integrated database on Kenyans abroad.

Countries such as China,India,Mexico,Philippines and Israel have benefited by capitalizing on their links with their diaspora.

The diaspora is encouraged to form linkages with their motherland and welfare associations abroad.

The government should ensure that the provision of services such as passport renewals,visa processing,crises assistance and immigration issues are more timely and efficient.

Financial institutions and government should explore cheaper and alternative channels of remitting money.

Kenyans in the diaspora can participate in national development by sharing skills and expertise with locals or by returning home to set up enterprises or work in established businesses.

Kenya’s diplomatic missions need to sensitize on the importance of registering with their respective Embassies and High Commissions. Our Constitution vests the Government with the responsibility of protecting Kenyans who are both within and outside the country.

Kenyans abroad can promote Kenya as a tourist destination. Tourism is a key foreign exchange earner and source of employment. With over three million Kenyans abroad,we can easily get over three million tourist arrivals per year.

Kenyans living in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, South Sudan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Germany will have an opportunity to participate in the 9 August 2022 polls. The new centres were in addition to East African Community countries( of Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda) and South Africa, where Kenyans were able to cast their votes in the 2017 general election.

Isn’t it time we pushed for the allocation of a diaspora representative in the National Assembly(Parliament and/or Senate) or County 48?

Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through mm@unreportedke.co.ke or WhatsApp: +254713104367. Contact Unrepoted Ke instantly. 

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