[23rd April 2015]

STATEMENT FROM H.E. S.K. MAINA, KENYA'S AMBASSADOR TO JAPAN FOLLOWING THE 1ST KENYA DIASPORA EASTER HOME INVESTMENT CONFERENCE 2015

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade organized the first Diaspora Investment Conference on March 31st to 2nd April, 2015 at the Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club in Nairobi. The conference whose theme was Development and Innovation: Opportunities for the Diaspora brought together more than 500 participants comprising Diaspora, returnees from the Diaspora, stakeholders from the financial and investment sector, real estate, service industry, and all Kenyan envoys serving abroad. The Conference was an eloquent testimony of the Government's keen interest and commitment in the active participation of the Diaspora in national development.

Importance of the Diaspora

In his opening speech, His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of the Republic of Kenya, acknowledged the important contribution of Kenyans abroad to the development of our country. He stressed that Governments across the world are increasingly aware of the indispensable contribution of Diasporas to the growth and development of their countries of origin. In this regard, the Kenya Government, has begun to take deliberate steps to formulate policies to harness this immense potential and mainstream it into national development plans.

Diaspora Data Bank

Due to the enormous potential of Kenyans in the Diaspora in terms of skills, knowledge and expertise, the Government is keen to tap this expertise to positively contribute to the growth of Kenya's economy. In her remarks, Ambassador (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, pointed out that the Ministry has started the process of building a Diaspora Database to help the Government in identifying and recruiting the right people for both national and international Jobs. Indeed, the response of Kenyan diaspora in Japan to this call has been most impressive.

Diaspora Remittances

The President noted that the launch of the African Institute for Remittances in Nairobi in November last year stressed the significance of the economic contribution of the Diaspora. The Institute will, among other things, assist in capacity building of member states of the AU, remittance senders, recipients, and other stakeholders, to manage remittances as a strategic asset.

In his message, Dr. Emmanuel Mutisya, Chairperson of Kenyans in Japan Association(KIJA) who spoke on behalf of the Diaspora noted that, while Kenyans in the Diaspora are known to make huge remittances back home, what is less known is the amount of money lost per annum by these same Kenyans every time they want to invest back home. He pointed out that the Diaspora hoped that the conference would come up with possible solutions including ensuring that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will include offering advice to members of the Diaspora on investment opportunities back home. He suggested that the Government builds a Diaspora Remittance Facility to militate against forex loses and transactions by the Diaspora since such monies could be converted into investment resources.

Diaspora Policy Implementation

The Government stressed its commitment in the implementation of the National Diaspora Policy, which H.E The President launched on 20th January 2015, to empower Kenyans abroad to make greater and more effective contribution to National Development. The implementation of this policy will support the critical importance of mainstreaming the Kenyan Diaspora in the development agenda in line with the aspirations and goals of Vision 2030, by creating an enabling environment in which the Diaspora is effectively integrated and is able to make significant contribution to the development of our country.

Voting in General Elections

Kenyans in the Diaspora expressed their keen expectation to vote in the next general election. As noted, our Constitution provides for the progressive realization of the voting rights of Kenyan citizens abroad. The Government provided assurance that it was committed to ensure that all Kenyans living abroad are progressively facilitated to participate in the next elections to enable them exercise their Democratic Right to choose their leaders.

National Security

The Government noted and acknowledged that national security is a matter of concern to the Diaspora. Security is essential for attracting investment from the diaspora or other international investors. The Government provided assurance of its commitment in securing our country, protecting our investments and creating a conducive investment climate.

Diaspora Consortium of Kenya

As an outcome of the Conference, the leaders of different Kenya Diaspora groups who were invited to the conference held several meetings which culminated with the establishment of the Diaspora Consortium of Kenya (DCK), an association that will work closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to bring Kenyans in the Diaspora together to promote national development. This steering mechanism reflects the primacy of Kenya Diaspora Groups and Associations, and consists of selected Leaders/Chairpersons of these groupings.

Dr. Emmanuel Mutisya, the Chair of Kenyans in Japan Association (KIJA) was selected the first Chairman of the Consortium.

DCK realizes the importance of collectivity and strives to bring all Kenyans abroad together to partner with the Government in support of our country's development. The Consortium provides a platform for creating, sharing and exchange of knowledge and skills to harness, foster and nurture Kenyans in the Diaspora.

Kenya Embassy
APRIL, 2015

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