President William Ruto has recognized the unique challenges faced by the diaspora community and promised to work closely with them to ensure that their interests are given attention.
Speaking Tuesday after his inauguration, Ruto stated that the Kenyan government had prioritised the remittances from the Kenyans living abroad alone, giving little or no attention to other issues affecting them.
“The complaint has been that the diaspora has not received the attention they deserve. The focus has been on remittances, while their fundamental rights as citizens have been neglected.” Ruto said.
The President pointed out a raft of measures that his government would take to ensure that the community, which contributes significantly to the economy, has all its issues addressed accordingly.
Some of the areas he mentioned include having diaspora issues addressed at the ministerial level, enhancing effectiveness in embassies and a move to establish a parliamentary committee exclusively for diaspora matters.
Others include public participation in matters affecting them and measures to ensure they participate fully in electoral processes.
Kenyans living abroad have repeatedly accused the government of abandoning them at times of need and called for legislations that are sensitive to their unique challenges.
In 2014, Kenyan Community in Atlanta Association (KCAA) released a damning protest against Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, accusing it of neglect and nonfriendly regulations to help repatriate their assets home.
The statement released by its then Chairman David Ochwang’i said that the embassy in the country was doing nothing to help them and never took seriously any issues that they raised.
“The Diaspora is not just about dual citizenship and remittances. It is also about the true representation at all levels of government and the formulation of programmes that attract investment in the home country,” he said.
Tax exemption and legislations on asset protection are some key issues that the association felt were treated with contempt.
Diaspora remittances hit US$ 339.7 million in May 2022, representing a 7.6% increase in a period of one year, according to the Central Bank of Kenya.